Final Four would stamp senior class with greatness

The Michigan State senior class has been maligned as overrated, chokers and losers at various times in the season. Living up to the legacy of great Spartan teams of the past has been a heavy burden for them to carry. But all would be forgiven if they managed to make a run to the NCAA's Final Four. Senior <B>Kelvin Torbert</b> will be an integral part of any Spartan run.

EAST LANSING - Over their four-year careers in East Lansing, Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert and Tim Bograkos have collectively been called almost every unflattering name in the book, from chokers-to losers-to 'you name it'.

Their failure to win a championship of any kind at Michigan State has been a burden that's been tough for them to carry.

Fans have been spoiled by the success of the great Mateen Cleaves and Magic Johnson led Spartans of the past.

But What particularly drew the ire of Spartans fans was a an embarassing incident when MSU prematurely hung a conference championship flag to unfurl after an expected win over rival Wisconsin.

However, Bo Ryan's squad staged a comeback and eventually whipped MSU in overtime 68-64, killing the Spartans title hopes. Worse, Spartans junior guard Chris Hill missed two free throws that would have won the title for MSU in regulation.

That when the catcalls reached a crescendo.

So incensed by the fallout at the time was MSU coach Tom Izzo declared he didn't even want the title.

"I could care less about the Big Ten," said coach Tom Izzo. "I hope Illinois wins it. I don't want to win a championship backing in. If Illinois can win out, they flat-out deserve it. I'm not going to be losing any sleep today or tomorrow. There won't be any prayers said about that tonight."

Still, for this group of Spartans players, they would like nothing more than to add to a legacy that includes three Big Ten Championships, two Big Ten Tournament Championships, four Elite Eight appearances (No other school has more than two) and three Final Four appearances in the last eight years.

The problem is that none from this group has had a hand in that success. Still, there are signs that things are looking up. After wins over Old Dominion and Vermont, the group was able to make Michigan State one of only two programs to claim six Sweet Sixteen appearances in the last eight years - the other is Duke.

They are two wins away from having a Final Four banner of their own to hang in the rafters, but what formidable obstacles stand in their way, the aforementioned Duke (Friday, 7:30 CBS) and, if they can get by that one, a likely matchup with SEC powerhouse Kentucky.

But who said getting a Final Four banner would ever be easy? In fact, it shouldn't be. It has proven to be one of the most difficult goals to attain in all of sports.

So if these senior led class should happen to beat the odds and claim a fourth Final Four banner to hang in the Breslin Center it would mark them among the truly great Michigan State team's of the past and ensure them a legacy that future teams would point toward.

For sure, it won't be easy.

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