Michigan State’s Tom Izzo: Automatic bids for smaller schools in March Madness should be ‘looked at’


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Tom Izzo is a March Madness veteran, heading into his twenty sixth straight match with the Michigan State Spartans. 

He, greater than many, understands how exhausting it’s to achieve the Ultimate 4, not to mention the nationwide championship. Michigan State has been among the many ultimate 4 groups within the NCAA Event eight occasions below Izzo’s reign, although just one nationwide title in 2000 got here of that. 

March Insanity has at all times been about upsets, particularly when it comes from mid-major faculties taking down powerhouses like Michigan State. Simply have a look at No. 16 Farleigh Dickinson College defeating No. 1 Purdue this time final yr. 


Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans in the course of the Purdue Boilermakers recreation at Goal Middle within the quarterfinals of the Huge Ten Event on March 15, 2024, in Minneapolis. (David Berding/Getty Photos)

However, whereas talking with reporters on Wednesday, Izzo mentioned automated bids for these mid- and low-majors, which comes from profitable their respective convention tournaments, has “bought to be checked out critically.”

“Whereas all people likes the upsets within the first spherical, I’m undecided if that’s true because it goes on,” Izzo instructed ESPN. 

Izzo’s assertion is one which others within the school basketball realm agree with, together with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. 


“We’re making a gift of extremely aggressive alternatives for automated qualifiers [from smaller leagues], and I feel that stress goes to rise as we’ve got extra aggressive basketball leagues on the high finish due to enlargement,” he mentioned by way of ESPN. 

Rick Pitino, head coach of St. John’s, one of many choice committee’s essential snubs this yr, additionally famous wanting extra former coaches and gamers on the committee shifting ahead.

There have been discussions about increasing the NCAA college basketball tournament, which might make it tougher for smaller faculties to get into the 64-team bracket we’re all used to filling out in March. The First 4 play-in video games, which decide two No. 16 seeds and two No. 10 seeds every year, might function much more competitors.

Head coach Tom Izzo during practice

Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans throughout follow day forward of the NCAA Males’s Basketball Event at Spectrum Middle on March 20, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Photos)

Nevertheless, the argument in opposition to these automated bids remaining for smaller faculties is because of the upsets we’ve seen over time. The match is actually anybody’s recreation, and it goes properly past what FDU did to Purdue final yr. 

There was the long-lasting run of Loyola Chicago in 2018, reaching the Ultimate 4 as a No. 11 seed, taking down greater faculties like Miami and Tennessee to get there. The College of Maryland, Baltimore County, higher often known as UMBC, shocked the world as a No. 16 seed after they took down No. 1 Virginia within the first spherical of the 2018 match as properly. 

And extra not too long ago, St. Peter’s was in a position to defeat the illustrious John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats as a No. 15 seed on their solution to a match run that ended within the Elite Eight. 

From Oral Roberts over Ohio State in 2021, to Princeton beating Arizona final yr, there are too many situations within the final decade, not to mention the match’s total historical past, that show smaller faculties can compete on the identical court docket as the standard juggernauts. 

Izzo talks to media

Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State speaks with the media forward of the NCAA Males’s Basketball Event on March 20, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Photos)


Whereas Izzo’s feedback had been heard, his No. 9-seeded Spartans will tackle No. 8 Mississippi State within the first spherical Thursday at 12:15 p.m. to kick off the West bracket. 

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