Izzo’s formula for deep runs in NCAA tounament starts with experience.

Tom Izzo is expected to have much of his latest Final Four team back next season at Michigan State.

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans looks on during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 

The Hall of Fame coach was not in the mood to celebrate that after Texas Tech eliminated the Spartans with a 61-51 victory at the Final Four.

“You never can feel good because you never know if you’ll ever get back here,” Izzo told reporters.

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Kenny Goins #25 in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State will have to replace departing seniors Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins, who will be missed for their outside shooting, defense and leadership.

Every other player on the roster has a chance to return, which could give Izzo another shot at the second national championship he desperately craves.

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans dribbles in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

All-America and Big Ten player of the year guard Cassius Winston and forward Nick Ward may enter their names in the NBA draft before ultimately deciding whether to stay in school or go pro. Ward, whose season was stunted when he broke his left hand, returned last year after initially declaring himself eligible for the draft.

Winston and Ward were not ready to talk about their future shortly after the loss Saturday night. Nor was Izzo.

“The last thing I’m going to talk about is anybody leaving,” Izzo said.

Forward Xavier Tillman , who had a breakout season, was willing to commit to returning.

“I’ll be back for sure,” Tillman said.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 31: Xavier Tillman #23 of the Michigan State Spartans is defended by Javin DeLaurier #12 of the Duke Blue Devils during the second half in the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 31, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

And, he predicted, the experienced and talented team could win it all in 2020.

“Sky is the limit,” he said. “The potential is winning the national championship.”

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Matt McQuaid #20 and Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans react on the bench in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

If Winston and Ward both return, they would lead a lineup that includes fellow senior Joshua Langford, Tillman and Aaron Henry, who showed promise as a freshman as Langford’s replacement as a starter. Reserves will likely include Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham, Foster Loyer and incoming freshmen Mark Watts and Malik Hall.

“If we come in with the same attitude that we’re not entitled to anything and we have to earn everything, we should be fine,” Tillman said.

The Spartans overcame a lot to win 32 games — one short of the school record — and the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships and to knock off top-seeded Duke to make the Final Four.

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: The Michigan State Spartans bench reacts in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

“I’ll be proud about this run until the day I die,” Goins said. “We fell short so I’m going to be sad right now and it’s going to sink in. But looking back on this, I’ll never be sad.”

Izzo has led the program to the Final Four eight times in 21 years, appearing in college basketball’s showcase more than any other school during the same stretch, but he has gone to the Final Four six straight times without winning an NCAA title since 2000.

“I’m going to come back here someday,” Izzo said. “Hopefully, it won’t take another four years.”

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts after being defeated by the Texas Tech Red Raiders 61-51 during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State was not expected to contend for a national championship this season.

It lost Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson, NBA lottery picks who left last year as underclassmen, and a trio of role-playing seniors. During the season, Langford’s season ended in December with an ankle injury and Ahrens’ injury-riddled season ended with a hurt ankle in the Big Ten Tournament.

 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – NOVEMBER 06: Tom Izzo the head coach talks with Joshua Langford #1 of the Michigan State Spartans shoots the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during the State Farm Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 6, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

“Imagine if we would have had Josh on the court,” Tillman said. “I think we would have gave it to him and got out of the way. Imagine if we had (Ahrens) on the court, able to give Aaron (Henry) a break. He’s another key shooter and offensive rebounder for us.

“If we had those two guys, I feel like it would have been a different result, but that’s a what-if.”

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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