Mississippi State’s Chris Jans excited to share March Madness sideline with Tom Izzo

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCBI) — 8-seed Mississippi State men’s basketball is set to face off against 9-seed Michigan State at 11:15 a.m. Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Despite sharing the MSU initials, these programs come from pretty different historic backgrounds. Mississippi State is in the Big Dance for just the 13th time ever, meanwhile Michigan State is in it for the 26th year in a row under Tom Izzo.

As a young coach, Mississippi State head coach Chris Jans said he looked up to Izzo.

“If I had to emulate someone or some program — and I’m talking about my early 20s — I go it would be Tom Izzo at Michigan State,” Jans said. “I always respected the way he went about his business, the way his teams played. I wanted my teams to be looked at that way, and I know they’re not.”

Now, he’s set to coach against him. But Jans is certain he’s far more familiar with Izzo than he is with him.

“I chuckled when we got paired up with him because I’m sure he had to look down at his staff and say, ‘Hey, who is Chris Jans and who are we playing against?'” Jans said.

Izzo said he doesn’t know Jans personally but said he thinks he’s done a phenomenal job. He praised Mississippi State for being well coached and physical.

Izzo hasn’t watched much Bulldog basketball, so he called upon some friends for help.

“They just said bring your hard hat and lunch box, and that’s what I would say. I not only admire and respect, but fear a little bit. That’s what they are, and that’s what — so it should be a helluva football game,” Izzo said.

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