Izzo says Big Ten tourney is 'big' for Spartans

stock photo

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says the Big Ten tournament is going to be "big" for his team.

Izzo acknowledges in most years that's not true.

The 22nd-ranked Spartans will face the winner of the Iowa-Northwestern game Friday night in the conference tournament.

They have struggled to find a groove even with all of their previously banged-up players back in the lineup.

A string of setbacks slowed six players or put them on the sideline this season. Branden Dawson returned March 1, giving Izzo all of his players in a game for the first time in nearly two months.

Michigan State started the season ranked No. 2 and was the nation's top-ranked team for a three-week stretch in late November and early December before injuries and illnesses took a toll.