The 2005 Michigan State University senior class will go down as one of the greatest teams in school history.
Put them right up their with the Mateen Cleaves and the Flintstones class. Rank them right up their with Magic Johnson, Jay Vincent, Greg Kelser and the boys. That's right, Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert and even little Tim Bograkos are all winners.
That was accomplished last night when the Spartans showed all the grit and heart of past great teams by outlasting a game group of Kentucky Wildcats 94-88 in double overtime to get to the Final Four.
No matter what happens at this point, MSU's seniors deserve all the accolades that the fans and media can throw at them.
But when the last game is played and those seniors look back at what has become of their careers, they ought to quietly go over and thank the next group led by junior Paul Davis and sophomores Shannon Brown and Maurice Ager, and while you're at it, give a little bit of an attaboy to freshman Drew Neitzel.
Davis' sensational 15-point, eleven rebound performance showed that he has arrived on the national stage and at the perfect time for a senior group that was running out of chances. Davis' slam dunk put-back broke the back of the Wildcats in overtime.
"Well, Alan [Anderson] did set that up," joked Davis. "He made a very nice drive to the basket and uh....he missed it on purpose, because he saw me coming. He drew a couple of guys and that left the lane wide open. I was just trying to put my two cents in on this big win. I don't think they counted that as an assist but it just shows everybody has everybody's back."
Then their was Brown, electrifying the country with his highlight reel dunks, three-point shooting and his clutch free throws. Brown led all scorers with 24 points while Ager chipped in with 21 points.
Their performances allowed Chris Hill, the most maligned of the senior group to overcome some mistakes down the stretch and live to fight another day. One hopes that Hill can have a breakout shooting performance before he plays his last game as a Spartan. Hill has meant too much to the program to go out playing up to less than his standards. Still, his four assist help spark a Spartan run.
As satsifying as this big win is, Michigan State still must have one thing lingering in the back of their minds. They finally beat a ranked opponent, they took care of Duke, a team that they had never beaten. They broke through to get to the Final Four as one of two team representing the Big Ten.
But there's is still one team remaining that Michigan State owes something. The Illinois Fighting Illini beat the Spartans in their one meeting due to a quirk in the conference schedule.
MSU would love to return that favor and it can only happen if they advance to the NCAA Finals with a win over North Carolina.
There's still some unfinished business.