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Iconic Coaches in Bill Self and Tom Izzo Match Up Early in Round of 32

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was asked on Saturday about the “date” with Kansas coach Bill Self in No. 9 Michigan State’s game against No. 1 seed Kansas in the Round of 32.

“A date? That’s what you call it,” Izzo said. “I’ve had some bad dates in my days, but this could be the worst.”

Izzo is facing a former Big 10 coach in Bill Self, who says the Spartan head coach is one of his closest friends within the college coaching fraternity. It all draws back to the days of competing in the Big 10 conference when Self was at the helm for Illinois.

“Tom and I developed a good relationship back when we were back in the league together, and that’s remained,” Self said. “He’ll bounce things off me when he’s frustrated and I’ll bounce things off him when I am. But certainly he’s been a guy that’s been a great role model and a great influence on me having had the opportunity to coach against him when we were in the league.”

Despite Michigan State’s record and young roster, the Spartans opened up the NCAA Tournament with a 78-58 win over No. 8 seed Miami.

“They’re playing a lot of young kids and when you have young kids you may have some inconsistencies,” Self said. “But I think we saw last night how the team can play when everybody’s playing well and that was obviously the case.”

State’s leading scorer and rebounder is freshman guard Miles Bridges, who averages 16.7 points and 8.3 boards.

Michigan State and Kansas will meet at 4:15 in Tulsa. The winner will advance to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City.