COLUMBUS, Ohio – Growing up in the aptly named Hoopeston, Ill., Thad Matta was always a fan of Big Ten basketball. But while the status of most of the league’s members changed for both better and worse- and sometimes better again- in the time that it took Matta to accept the head coaching job at Ohio State in 2004, one program has remained a constant at the top of the conference mountain: Michigan State.
The Spartans have been simultaneous with success since the late 1970s and the days of Magic Johnson. Since 1978, MSU has won 10 Big Ten regular season titles, appeared in 24 NCAA Tournaments- including the past 15- and has won two national championships. The Spartans’ status has been sustained over time by head coach Tom Izzo, who took over the program in 1995 after serving as an assistant coach to former MSU headman Jud Heathcote.
“He took over a program that had had success and he’s really taken it to another level,” Matta said of Izzo, who has coached the Spartans to seven conference championships. “I’ve always been a Big Ten fan from a little kid growing up, and they have been kind of at the top.
“When I got here, that was one of the few programs that was probably going to stand the test of time that we were probably going to have to compete with if we wanted to do this thing like we had set out to.”
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