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Izzo ‘happy’ where he is

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Associated Press
March 30, 2010
— Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Monday that he is happy where he is after a report that Oregon wants to make him the richest coach in the nation.

KEZI-TV in Eugene, Ore., cited anonymous sources in reporting that the school plans to offer Izzo college basketball’s largest contract with help from Nike Inc. co-founder Phil Knight.


“I have not been contacted,” Izzo told The Associated Press on Monday. “I’m happy here, and I’m focused on trying to win another national championship.”


Izzo led the Spartans to a title a decade ago. He will take them to the college basketball’s showcase this weekend for the sixth time in 12 seasons, a string of success accomplished only by UCLA’s John Wooden and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in NCAA history.


Kentucky gave John Calipari a $31.65 million, eight-year contract last year, the largest known deal for a college basketball coach. Private schools, such as Duke, aren’t required by law to reveal what they pay coaches.


Izzo is earning more than $3 million per season at Michigan State and is under contract through 2016.


Oregon dismissed Ernie Kent, its winningest coach, two weeks ago after 13 seasons at his alma mater. The Ducks were 16-16 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-10 this season.


The Atlanta Hawks once tried to lure Izzo to the NBA and his name has been mentioned over the years as a candidate to lead Kentucky and Kansas, among other schools.


Izzo is in his 15th season at Michigan State, where he was promoted to replace Jud Heathcote when he retired following the 1994-95 season.


He helped the Spartans beat Tennessee on Sunday, earning a trip to Indianapolis—where he won the school’s second national title in 2000.


Duke favored to win


Duke is the favorite among the Final Four to win the NCAA title, while Michigan State is a longshot despite its trip to the finals last year, oddsmakers in Las Vegas said Monday.


Las Vegas Sports Consultants made Duke a 7-5 favorite to win the title and a 2.5-point favorite to beat West Virginia in the semifinals on Saturday night, oddsmaker Kenny White said.


“They’ve probably had the easiest run,” White said of the Blue Devils (33-5), who beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, California and Purdue before beating Baylor 78-71 on Sunday to reach the Final Four.


White said either Duke or West Virginia would likely be favored over Butler or Michigan State in the finals.


The Las Vegas-based firm that recommends betting lines to 90 percent of sports books in Nevada said Butler had a 5-2 chance of winning the title and put West Virginia’s chances at 2-1 and Michigan State’s at


17-5.


The firm said Butler is favored by 1.5 points in its game against Michigan State.


Michigan State (28-8) has reached the Final Four six of the past 12 years, but was expected to be an underdog with the Bulldogs playing near their home court in Indianapolis. Butler is listed as the host school for the Final Four.


“(The Spartans) were there last year – that’s quite an advantage – but they are matched up on the road basically playing in Indianapolis,” White said. “They’ll be the underdog in both games.”


The Las Vegas Hilton, which listed Duke as a 6-5 favorite and Michigan State as an 11-2 underdog, saw bettors flocking to Butler at 7-2 odds to win the title, said Chris Graham, race and sports coordinator.


“Butler’s definitely the Cinderella,” Graham said.


White said that despite the odds, the Final Four teams were not very far apart, with the widest spread for the finals expected at 4.5 or 5 points if Duke plays Michigan State.


“Anything could happen here, believe me,” White said.



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