Mar 15, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorI like Tom Izzo.
The veteran Michigan State men's basketball coach and his players are going to help me break my jinx this year of not even coming to close picking the winner in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament.
There have been some years I've even surprised myself in trying to pick the champ.
The best example was a few years back when I selected Boston College to win the whole thing. BC plays in my favorite basketball conference (Big East), and I thought the Eagles had the talent to go all the way.
They were pushed into overtime in their first round game on a Thursday afternoon, and I watched the end of the game with some of my co-workers.
I was a nervous wreck.
I was pacing around the office, and I had my eyes closed some of the time. I even wanted to change my selection after I typed in my column.
That didn't happen. It was already on the press, ready to run.
I was stuck with Boston College.
I couldn't believe the Eagles had the opportunity to lose the game in the opening round. That would have been my most embarrassing prediction of all time.
After I almost had a nervous breakdown, Boston College managed to pull out the victory. The Eagles advanced to the Sweet 16, but didn't even come close to winning a title.
My father always is the first one to call me up and make fun of my predication when the team is eliminated from the tournament.
This year, I'm hoping he won't be calling until after Michigan State wins the title.
Izzo knows how to make the right adjustments to get the Spartans deep into the tournament.
Izzo has been to the Sweet 16 nine times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010).
Izzo has coached in the Final Four (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010).
He has one championship in 2000, but Izzo is due to win another one next month.
The Spartans started out the regular season off the radar, but MSU has climbed into a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
Michigan State edged Ohio State 68-64 for the Big 10 title on Sunday to win the toughest league this year.
Izzo's top offensive players are Draymond Green and Keith Appling. Green is No. 1 in scoring for the Spartans at 16.1 points per game, and Appling is at 11.3.
Those two players have just become my favorite college basketball players for the next few weeks.
Green will need to find a way to score in double figures the next six games, and Appling will need to be right behind him.
Izzo wasn't scared to play a tough non-conference schedule before the Big 10 started.
The Spartans played North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. All those squads are playing in the NCAA tournament and have a great opportunity to make some noise.
MSU has the experience on the roster it needs to make me a winner. Green is a senior and has been battle tested the past four years in the Big 10 and in the NCAA.
The Spartans are one of the best defensive teams in nation.
They know how to play strong man-to-man defense to lift the championship trophy up.
Michigan State's toughest test should come in the West regional final game vs. No. 2 seed Missouri.
The powerhouse programs are going to rule the NCAA tournament.
The small schools don't have a chance this year.
So much for the upsets.
Kentucky (South), Ohio State (East) and Georgetown (Midwest) should be in the Final Four.
I believe MSU will play Ohio State in the title game on April 2 in New Orleans.
That's is when Izzo will prove he is the best coach in NCAA, and I'll have finally celebrate a correct pick.
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