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East Lansing — Tom Izzo called for a warm welcome for the ESPN College GameDay crew as they took to Breslin Center on Saturday morning, and that's exactly what the head coach witnessed from his fans.

Some believed that ESPN wasn't welcome in East Lansing after last year's Outside the Lines story, but fans were on their best behavior.

"Go green, go white" chants filled the air and the lower bowl was packed as Michigan State fans showed support for their No. 6-ranked team.

Michigan State was the destination for the latest installment of College GameDay, which was a surprise given the multiple Top 25 showdowns around the nation Saturday, and the excitement pulsed through the air.

"I'm pumped; it's a great time to have everyone here," Michigan State student Joseph Lietaert said. "It's just really exciting to have ESPN come and show support for us."

Not only did fans see this as an exciting time for the basketball team, they also believed this is something that can bring the strengthen the community.

"I think it's going to be a good time to kind of bring the community back together," Lietaert said. "It'll be good to bridge the gap (between ESPN) and move forward."

The community feel was evident as there were almost as many families present as students, though the latter were clearly the loudest.

"My son wanted to come check it out' he hasn't been to a GameDay before," Haslett native Craig Kueffner said. "We understand that there are different facets of ESPN. We understand that ESPN has to do their job; they're journalists."

From fans showing up early to fill the lower bowl to Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Josh Langford and Matt McQuaid doing their best impression of Izzo, which drew the biggest applause, everyone was all smiles for College GameDay.

Michigan State's run this season has been surprising given the talent it lost from last year's team, but others saw success coming.

"I've looked forward to this team for quite a while," longtime fan Sue Shaffer said. "I know they lost a couple of great players last year (NBA lottery picks Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges), but I've watched basketball for many, many years and I think the chemistry of this team is the best I've seen in a long time." 

Shaffer has never missed a College GameDay at Michigan State, and has high hopes for this team.

As for the ESPN side of things, Shaffer echoed a common feeling among fans on Saturday morning.

"I think (the fans) are doing a good job," Shaffer said. "I think it's time to heal a little bit."

Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.

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