ATLANTA (97.1 The Ticket) – Blood is thicker than water and good will doesn’t mean you cheer on a rival even in your own Big Ten conference.

Dan Leach and Evan Jankens of 97.1 The Ticket caught up with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo before the Michigan – Syracuse game Saturday night in Atlanta.

Although the season didn’t end the way the Spartan coach wanted Izzo was asked what strengths would be taken out of the season which brought his team into the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.

“I thought we had a great year … you always want to win that last game so you are never happy especially when you’ve been here before and you realize how exciting it is, how awesome it is … you always want your kids to get a chance to do that,” said Izzo.

“At the same time considering the injuries we had a good team – only one senior in Derrick Nix we had a couple of guys a young freshman; Harris really played well, Appling and Payne really elevated their game.”

“You never know, man, next year, who knows?” he smiled.

Izzo talked exclusively to The Ticket about the game between Michigan and Syracuse …

“We played against Syracuse a few times – not the same personnel but the same zone and Jim does a great job with them – it just seems like it was three weeks ago everyone was asking ‘What’s wrong with Syracuse?’ … Four weeks ago they were asking the same thing about Michigan. Lost 6 out of their last 12 – so you never know how these things go but I think sometimes you may worry about the zone too much and it becomes an enemy in itself.”

“I don’t think Michigan will do that – they’ve got the shooters to handle that – it’s going to be an interesting game because Michigan doesn’t turn the ball over much and I think Syracuse needs turnovers to score – they don’t score as well,” Izzo noted.

“Michigan is not as big – Syracuse is huge inside – so it’s going to be really different groups there and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out,” he said.

Asked if he’d be cheering for Big Ten rival Michigan the Spartan coach was pretty clear:

“I’m not sure cheering was the right word – I like what Charles said on the stage when I asked him ‘Who do you cheer for?’ with Auburn … he said if Auburn was playing .. if Alabama was playing Russia – I’d cheer for Russia so I think he put it in perspective. I am happy for the Big Ten – John Beilein has done a good job there but I think it’s illegal to cheer for your rival, you can respect them, you can feel decently about it but I’m not waving any pom poms today,” said the Big Ten coach Izzo.

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