Michigan State defeated Florida in the national title game back in 2000. Fifteen years later, it's time for a rematch.
The Spartans and Gators will clash this season, Michigan State announced Tuesday. That game is slated for Dec. 12 in East Lansing, and it is part of a home-and-home, as the Spartans will travel to Gainesville during the 2017-18 season.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we played Florida in the national championship game,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in the announcement. “To be able to mark the 15th anniversary with a game against the Gators is a special opportunity. Between this game and playing Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, we are excited to bring some of college basketball’s top programs to our home fans this season. It’s part of a continual quest to schedule great non-conference games at Breslin Center for our fans that have been so loyal and give us one of the best home-court advantages in the nation.”
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Izzo captured a national championship in his second Final Four appearance with that win over Florida back in 2000. The Spartans won that game, 89-76, behind a combined 58 points from Morris Peterson, A.J. Granger and Mateen Cleaves. Jason Richardson and Charlie Bell combined for another 18. Despite a total of seven Final Four appearances, the 2000 title is the only national championship of the Izzo Era.
Michigan State and Florida have played four times since that game. The Spartans won the following season, the Gators won in 2001, the Spartans won in 2003 and the Gators won the most-recent matchup in 2009.
It will be a much different looking Gators sideline this season, as longtime head coach Billy Donovan departed for the NBA this offseason, leaving to become the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Donovan coached against Izzo in that national title game in 2000 and won two national titles of his own with the Gators in 2006 and 2007.
As Izzo mentioned, it will be an exciting non-conference season for Michigan State fans, as Louisville will be joining Florida in visiting Breslin Center.
Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.
Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football.
"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.
"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.
"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline."
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."
"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.
"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."
Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.
Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.
As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.
Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.
The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.