By: Will Burchfield
Tom Izzo enjoyed every moment of his team’s trip to Little Caesars Arena last Saturday during which No. 2 Michigan State knocked off Oakland as part of the Hitachi College Basketball Showcase, and he’d love to make it an annual tradition.
“I’m always trying to get good home games for our fans, but looking at what happened down there, if I could get one game down there a year it might help our alumni and everything in Detroit. It was fun, it was great to be in the city and I’m just so impressed how it’s coming down there,” Izzo told 97.1 The Ticket.
The Spartans may not have to wait until next season. Little Caesars Arena is one of the sites for the first and second rounds of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Izzo mentioned this to his team on Saturday, and doesn’t feel he was gazing too far into the future.
“I don’t look at that as looking ahead. I look at that as the reality. It’s something to shoot for. Dreams and goals are what motivates everybody, and I definitely think it would motivate us,” Izzo said.
After all, Izzo knows what it’s like. His Spartans played NCAA Tournament games at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2000 and at Ford Field in 2009. Izzo said the experience in 2000, when Michigan State knocked off Syracuse in the Sweet 16 and then Iowa State in the Elite 8, was as special as playing in a Final Four.
“And in 2009, to be in Detroit when everything was so wrong it seemed and to be a bright spot, those are memory makers that last more than a lifetime. So I don’t have any problem talking about (returning this season) because that is one of the goals,” Izzo said.
The star-studded Spartans drew a sold-out crowd on Saturday, something the primary tenants at Little Caesars Arena have struggled to do in its first year of operation. Many fans were already in the building when warmups began thanks to the preceding game between Michigan and Detroit Mercy, and Izzo agreed it fueled a rock star-like aura about his team.
“I absolutely loved it. I was so appreciative of our fans down there and what that place looked like with the huge crowd and the great job they did,” Izzo said. “It was just so good for the city.”
If everything goes as planned, the Spartans will be back soon.