Is Tom Izzo The Best College Basketball Coach In The Game Right Now? Sure Looks Like It.
Personally speaking, I can't remember the last time I saw a coach's game plan run to such perfection. The fact that Izzo was able to do this against a team coached by Rick Pitino - who's a pretty good coach in his own right - only heightened the impressiveness of the victory.
But just how good is Izzo? While his career is far from over, we can at least take a look at how he fares in comparison to his contemporaries.
The Big Lead took the time to break down how a number of programs have performed in the NCAA Tournament in the last decade, and suddenly the case for Izzo being the best current coach in the game makes a lot of sense.
Here's what Izzo's Spartans have done Tourney-wise in the last 10 years:
10-10 Tourney trips, 6 Sweet 16s, 4 Final Fours, 1 title
The only other major programs that have had a perfect Tourney trip record in the last 10 years are Kansas and Duke. Here's how they fared across the board over the last decade.
Kansas: 10-10 tourney trips, 7 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 1 title
Duke: 10-10 tourney trips, 7 Sweet 16s, 2 Final Fours, 1 title
It is important to note that Kansas has been coached by Roy Williams and Bill Self over the last decade. And while Roy Williams individually has gone 10-10 in Tourney trips with 7 Sweet 16s, 4 Final Fours, and 1 championship in the last decade, he's been regarded more as a coach who's failed to win champships that he should have won, rather than someone who has gotten the most out of his teams. How many times was Kansas supposed to win it all while Williams was there? At least 3 or 4 times.
If you're still unsure about Izzo's success, take a look at how these other major programs - that you'd likely consider upon initial thought as being better than Michigan State - have done in the last decade.
Connecticut - 8-10 tourney trips, 5 Sweet 16s, 2 Final Fours, 1 title
Florida - 8-10 tourney trips, 4 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 2 titles
UCLA - 8-10 tourney trips, 6 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 0 titles
North Carolina - 8-10 tourney trips, 5 Sweet 16s, 4 Final Fours, 1 title
I definitely think there's something to be said for Billy Donovan winning two titles with Florida - back-to-back no less - but the drop off after those championships has been rather severe, as Florida hasn't made the Tourney since.
When you get right down to it, Izzo's performance at Michigan State has been consistently impressive. Even more remarkable is that Izzo has turned the program from being known for one incredible season (Magic Johnson's 1979 championship) into a perennial powerhouse. Seriously, aside from Magic's two seasons in East Lansing, Michigan State has almost no significant NCAA Tourney record to speak of before Izzo.
So is Izzo the best in the game right now? I'd have to say so.