No. 2 seed Michigan State, winner of the East Region, will play No. 3 Texas Tech, a first-time Final Four team out of the West Region, in Saturday’s second national semifinal. Here’s what you need to know.
When: 8:49 p.m.
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis.
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson).
Stream: March Madness Live.
Odds: Michigan State minus-2, as of Saturday morning.
How they got here: Michigan State (32-6) finished the regular season winning seven of its eight final games to claim a share of the Big Ten title, before going three for three in the conference tournament to claim that crown, as well. Despite that, the Spartans landed in the same region as top overall seed Duke, a move by the selection committee that drew widespread condemnation. Michigan State had a relatively easy time of it once in the tournament, beating No. 15 seed Bradley, 76-65; No. 10 seed Minnesota, 70-50; and No. 3 seed LSU, 80-63. That set up a date with Duke, a March classic between blue-blood programs and hall of fame coaches. The Spartans won, 68-67.
The Red Raiders (30-6) won 15 of their first 16 games and finished atop the Big 12 standings. They lost to West Virginia the conference tournament title game, but have looked dominant since. Texas Tech cruised through its tournament schedule — a 72-57 win over No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky, a 78-58 triumph over No. 6 seed Buffalo and a 63-44 victory over No. 2 seed Michigan — before toppling No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the West Region final to reach its first Final Four in school history.
Final Four history: Michigan State is in its 10th Final Four, and eighth in the past 21 seasons, which leads the nation. The Spartans’ 10 total trips are eighth-most of any school. They won the national championship in 1979 and 2000, and played in the title game in 2009. But Michigan State has lost four of past five national semifinals. Texas Tech has never played in the Final Four.
They said it: “Everybody would like to have what Duke and Kentucky have as far as personnel. Both of them have had incredible years, but experience does matter too, you know. Somewhere there’s probably a happy medium. If you don’t have the best talent, you’d better be very old and very experienced.” — Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo.
“We’ve seen the lion roar and we’ve roared back.” — Michigan State injured wing Joshua Langford, discussing his team’s resilience.
“There’s guys on our team that have given up Netflix after 9 p.m. There’s guys on our team that have given up social media. There’s guys that have given up fried food. You basically have to sacrifice something. In our culture, if you say you’re going to do it, you’d better do it, or you’re about to get roasted. So me this year, it’s no beer, no desserts, no candy. I haven’t had any ice cream, candy, cake, beer, since first day of practice. A couple things, though. Did you know a Pop-Tart is not a dessert? It’s a breakfast. I’ve eaten a lot of Pop-Tarts, man, since October.” — Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard.
“I’m sure once I walk out there for the first time, it will hit home. I’m living a dream right now.” — Texas Tech guard Matt Mooney.
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