EAST LANSING — Michigan State’s 64-60 loss to Georgetown on Feb. 1 at Madison Square Garden reeked of everything that was wrong.
The Spartans had no Adreian Payne or Branden Dawson and got crushed on the boards. Keith Appling had become a shell of his early-season self, and limped through 38 minutes with one good wrist.
“I don’t even want to think about that game,” Appling said. “I don’t even want to let that cross my mind.”
They were beat up, tired and about to lost five of their next nine Big Ten games.
Now, 51 days later, Michigan State is about to return to the scene of its February dismay to face No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA tournament East regional semifinal.
The Spartans look nothing like they did that day against Georgetown, including the bronze uniforms. They have their full roster back and they’ve won five straight games. Their health is no longer an issue, and they’re even President Barack Obama’s pick to win it all.
“I think God set it up this way for a reason,” Denzel Valentine said. “We get our revenge.”
Revenge…on a building?
“Revenge on a building,” Valentine reiterated. “I want to win at the Garden. All the greats love it there. It would be nice to get a win in the Garden.”
Michigan State’s luck at the Garden goes beyond Valentine. The Spartans lost to St. Louis there in the semifinals of the 1989 National Invitational Tournament, they lost to Syracuse and Fresno State there in the Preseason NIT in 2001 and they lost to Duke there in the Champions Classic.
Michigan State did beat Boston College at the Garden in the 2005 Jimmy V Classic.
The game between No. 4 seed Michigan State (28-8) and No. 1 seed Virginia (30-6) will follow the matchup between No. 3 seed Iowa State (28-7) and No. 7 seed Connecticut (28-8) at 10 p.m. Friday (TBS).
“It’s awesome,” head coachTom Izzo said. “We got a lot of alums there (in New York). I like to play there, but players, they think riding the garbage elevator is one of the greatest things known to man.
“I’m happy for them that they get this opportunity.”
An opportunity for revenge on a building.
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