Michigan State's Tom Izzo '100 Percent' Believes CBB Will Happen Amid Pandemic

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2020

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo on the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oakland, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said Friday he's confident the 2020-21 college basketball season will take place despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Izzo discussed his reason for optimism during an appearance on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. The Spartans play in the Big Ten, which announced Tuesday all fall sports, including football, would be postponed until spring because of COVID-19 health and safety concerns.

"I think basketball guys will learn from football, and I'm close to my football guys and a lot of football guys in this country," he said. "We're gonna try to get ahead of it a little better. I 100 percent believe we're gonna play."

Izzo also said he's hopeful the remaining time before the college basketball season tips off in November will yield further support for safely playing sports.

The 65-year-old Michigan native said whether it's a vaccine or further advancement of saliva-based testing—Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic analyzed the potential benefits of frequent, widespread antigen tests Friday—three months is plenty of time for a significant breakthrough:

"I think there's a lot of things that are gonna happen. Ours is a little easier to manage. One, I don't know why, I just think there'll be a vaccine. I think they're testing, you guys hear about the saliva test that the NBA and I think the NFL is using, isn't quite FDA-approved, but it's getting close. I think there's a lot of things that could change in the weeks to come, and hopefully that'll advance us and we get a chance to learn."

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Izzo noted the Spartans made it through a June camp without any positive COVID-19 tests and said he "can't think of any safer place" than the MSU athletic facility based on the standards put in place. They've also made clear to players the importance of following guidelines.

"The sacrifices these kids have made to get where they're at, I think now we gotta say, 'Hey, you know what, guys—you can't be the normal college student,'" he said. "But probably we've been saying that for 50 years: 'You can't do everything the normal student does.' And now it's just taken to a new level."

ESPN's Jeff Borzello reported Thursday there have been discussions about the potential for a college basketball "bubble," similar to what's being used by the NHL and NBA to finish their seasons.

NCAA President Mark Emmert hinted Thursday the organization may reduce the size of the 2021 NCAA tournament after the hallmark event was canceled this year because of the pandemic.

"Starting with 64 teams is tough," he said. "Thirty-two, OK, maybe that's a more manageable number."

Izzo has been the head coach at Michigan State since 1995. He's led the program to six Big Ten tournament titles, eight Final Four appearances and a national championship in 2000.