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It's not like Michigan State is an underdog, or that the Spartans don’t have their share of talent coming into the program. But Tom Izzo doesn’t operate on the same playing field as Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina or UCLA when it comes to recruiting.
According to Scout.com, his last eight classes were rated as: unranked (2005), 12th (2006), ninth (2007), 17th (2008), unranked (2009), 10th (2010), 19th (2011) and 13th (2012).
Izzo rarely has lottery picks (only one since 2001) but has been to three Final Fours in that time. His last first-round pick was in 2006, but in the six seasons since, he has gone to the Sweet 16 twice, the Final Four twice and the National Championship game once in 2009.
Despite this, his teams play on the same level as all the aforementioned powers. He maximizes what he has to use. His teams are always prepared when it counts and consistently play their best basketball in March.
Izzo has been part of an incredible six Final Fours and two National Championship games, and he won the title in 2000. He has not missed the tournament since 1997.
Tom Izzo’s program is no less dominant than Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or North Carolina, and better than all the rest. He doesn’t have the elite NBA talent that these programs do, but he has the ability to squeeze the most out of his athletes.
For nearly 20 years, Izzo has been the best at maximizing players in Lansing, and that is why he is first on this list.