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MSU discounts Georgia's NCAA inexperience as factor

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Charlotte, N.C. — Michigan State is playing in its 18th straight NCAA Tournament and 29th overall.

MSU guard Travis Trice is playing in his fourth NCAA Tournament.

Georgia is playing in its 12th overall and it's the first appearance for the Bulldogs since 2011.

So Michigan State has a decided edge in experience, but Tom Izzo isn't convinced that will matter when the teams meet Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena.

"I think it could be a positive or a negative either way," Izzo said before the Spartans practiced Thursday. "The positive is you do have some guys with some experience, but last year's team and the year before's team doesn't win this year's games. The other side of it, Georgia hasn't been there for a while. Just think how exciting it is for them and I remember how excited we were the first time we went and with that set of players, that raises their level.

"So it works both ways, to be honest with you."

Senior Travis Trice is playing in his fourth NCAA Tournament while senior Branden Dawson and juniors Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello are in their third. All were key players in last year's team that reached the Elite Eight.

On the Georgia side, only senior Marcus Thornton was on the 2011 team that lost its first game to Washington.

"It's exciting to be here, and really whatever you did in the past, you can point to in some ways," Izzo said. "That part of history is you don't change and hopefully we can learn from what we did, but I'm sure from his standpoint they're so excited about the opportunity they have because they haven't had it. So I think it's a coin flip on that, I think it works both ways. I'm not downplaying our experience, especially with the three or four guys that have had enormous (experience). But we have had four or five guys that have had almost none, too, and I can tell that sometimes because when you get in this tournament you've got to focus on every single second.

"The number of one- and two-point games in this tournament are enormous and there's no question that Georgia is as good as a lot of teams we played. They remind me of an Ohio State or an Illinois or a Purdue, very solid, very stable. … Great respect. I think we have a little advantage in experience, I think they have a little advantage in first-time excitement and we'll see what the two will bring."