ROB PARKER: MSU should be in Final Four!

ROB PARKER: MSU should be in Final Four!
Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-28 12:57:46-04

If you're a Michigan State fan, you should be sick.

Almost as sick as the morning after Alabama embarrassed your football team in front of the nation, 38-0, on New Year's Eve.

Here, in March Madness, the MSU faithful has every reason to be mad at coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans should be one of the Final Four teams, with a chance to win the national championship a week from today.

Instead, Syracuse is going from the Midwest region MSU was in. Syracuse, which had a down regular season, is now flirting with a chance at a title.

Did we mention that Syracuse was a 10th seed, the first 10th seed to make it to the Final Four? Shame on Izzo for letting this one get away.

Izzo is one of the most celebrated in college basketball. Announcers, sports writers and fans fall over Izzo. They can't praise him enough.

Coming into the tourney, it was time for Izzo to live up to the hype. Izzo was supposed to win the NCAA Tournament this year.

There were supposed to be no more excuses.

Enter Middle Tennessee State, a 15th seed. MSU was a No. 2 seed and could have easily been a No. 1 seed.

So many thought the opening round game in St. Louis was a foregone conclusion, that a lot of Spartan fans didn't take off from work to watch, or watch at all.

It was supposed to be easy as pie.

In fact, the entire tournament was set up for Izzo to finally capture his second title. His first championship was long ago, back in 2000. Izzo has accomplished a lot since then.

This trip was MSU's Big Ten-record 19th straight NCAA Tournament. In the process, Izzo had won 73 percent of those games. He ranked fifth behind some of the biggest coaches in the game, including Coach K, Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Roy Williams.

Izzo was gunning for his eighth trip to the Final Four in his 21 season at MSU. That 90-81 loss to Middle Tennessee - a game the Spartans never led - will haunt Izzo. Especially when you see Syracuse dancing in MSU's spot.

Izzo had worked his magic in March to get to the Final Four in the past. But ever since winning that title, Izzo's Spartans had been lousy in Final Fours. In fact, Izzo was just 1-6 in his last seven Final Four games. All together, Izzo is 3-6 in Final Four games in his career.

For many, just getting to the Final Four would have been reason alone celebrate. But not Izzo. The longer he goes without success against the best coaches and biggest programs, the more the shine from the title fades. This year, the Spartans had everything in place to make it happen. As a second seed in the Midwest bracket, MSU only had Virginia in the way to another chance at the Final Four and a championship.

Virginia wound up losing to Syracuse. It was even more proof that college basketball is down this season. There weren't many teams out there that scared you. None, in fact. What makes this missed opportunity hurt even more is that Izzo had the horses. Izzo had three super seniors in Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes.

Valentine was the best player in college basketball this season and has all the awards to prove it.

To solidify himself as truly a great coach, Izzo needs to win again. I've always said that "anybody can win one.''

There are plenty of coaches out there who have won a single title.

Greatness truly is the ability to do it again with different players and circumstances. There are a lot of coaches who have won a title and no one will say they are great because of it.

To his credit, Izzo has acknowledged his desire to win it all again. He's not obsessed, but knows the importance of it. Here, with the Spartans' first round exit many have to right to look at Izzo and wonder why.

On paper, it was honestly his best chance to win and get back on top in college basketball.

Instead, Syracuse is in MSU's place. Spartan fans have the right to be mad this March.