The State News - Spring 2023 Housing Guide

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Real estate agents offer tips on living affordably in East Lansing

Finding an affordable place to live in East Lansing can be hard. Area real estate agents weigh in.

Housing horror stories: Students share their East Lansing housing troubles

MSU students share their shocking, and sometimes disgusting, stories from East Lansing housing experiences.


Family affair: Steven and Tom Izzo reflect fondly on four years together

Tom and Steven Izzo reflect on the last four years on the court together.

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Freshman forward Jaxon Kohler pushes through a stout Ohio State defense, on March 4, 2023. Photo by Henry Szymecko

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Sign up is here! Here are actions you need to take:

• Students must complete their 2023-24 Housing Contract to get a sign-up time in My Housing.

• Students interested in a single room must complete the Single Room Interest Form by March 10. Space is not guaranteed.

• Students in a Living-Learning Community (LLC) can opt into second-year LLC housing by completing an opt-in form by March 10

• Students required to live on campus who wish to live o campus may apply for an exception in My Housing by March 10. If an exception is approved, students will no longer be required to live on campus and will not be able to sign up for campus housing in future years. This action cannot be undone

• Students who wish to live together will create a roommate group in My Housing before selection. Learn more at

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Real estate agents

The rental market in East Lansing can be daunting at times, which is why it’s important to be prepared when looking for a house or apartment that best suits your needs.

Three real estate agents in the area offered advice on ways to save money while looking for your next residence.


Location will always dictate price, Hagan Realty agent Matt Hagan said. If you live close to Grand River Avenue, downtown, Grove Street or Charles Street, prices will be higher. As you get further from campus, such as near Lexington Avenue, you will find more affordable rent.

Brian Hagan, another agent with Hagan Realty, advised house hunters to not get hung up on a specific street or house and do your research. Being open to looking one block over or one block back might save you $25 a month and you may find the layout or amenities more appealing, he said.

“Affordability is, in our mind, not just the price but it’s what you get for that price,” Brian Hagan said.

Matt Hagan recommends looking

at the Burcham area, which is further from Grand River Avenue but still close enough to campus where someone can walk or ride their bike.

In addition, he suggests choosing a spot based on what your needs are. Charles Street and Grove Street can be better for being close to the bar scene. Further areas, like those near Lexington Avenue and Spartan Avenue can be cheaper and away from party-heavy areas, but still close enough to walk. The Flowerpot Neighborhood is close to campus and a quieter area.

EXIT Realty at Home agent Troy Davis suggests looking near the Sanford area, Patriarch Park or Tower Gardens. Slightly outside of East Lansing, he recommends Scott’s Woods — which he said is a fantastic neighborhood that often has low rent.

“Somewhere that’s five, six minutes away would be absolutely fantastic,” Davis said. “It is in Lansing but not East Lansing, but that would allow you to have a much lower rent rate and still be very, very close to all the amenities in the campus.”


Regarding roommates, Matt Hagan suggests that you rent with fewer

people because the chances of eight people getting along all year long is not always good.

“From our experience, the fewer people you have living under one roof, the greater the chance of everybody getting along and not having problems whether it be with different lifestyles or collecting money for bills from each other,” Matt Hagan said.

Matt Hagan also recommends that if you’re living with a group, ensure that you have similar lifestyles and set ground rules.


Newer apartments might be more expensive, while older existing apartments further from campus will probably be more reasonably priced, Matt Hagan said. In addition, he advised students to look for apartments that include utilities in the rent.

Design of the apartment is also important. Some older houses have very large common spaces, living rooms and dining rooms which are good for gatherings and parties. But buildings that are more compact and just have the necessary space can be beneficial because you are not heating extra areas, Hagan said.


Davis suggests looking at a broad range of factors before deciding on a property. This can include aspects like crime rates.

“(Renters) could go to and look up areas of crime and look at the type of crimes that’s happening in the area to make sure that they are comfortable with the choice that they made,” Davis said.

Brian Hagan said since there are more options to rent apartments than houses, it’s important to shop around and research the management company, their policies and the lease itself. Some leases can have additional fees or things that might not directly cost money but add obstacles such as lawn upkeep requirements.


After you move in, there are plenty of ways to cut costs.

The agents recommend shutting doors and windows, turning off lights and TVs when not in use and turning off your air conditioner or heat system regularly. For Michigan winters, turning down your heat and layering up more can lower costs, and plastic wrapping windows can help you avoid drafts, Davis said.

Opting for a smart thermostat can help monitor usage. While you’re away, keep your home at 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, a comfortable amount where you’ll see a difference on your utility bill, Davis said. Be sure not to turn your thermostat completely off during the winter, as the cold can lead to burst pipes which is more expensive than any utility bill.

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A view of houses just off of Grand River Avenue. in East Lansing, on March 3, 2023. Photo by Jack Patton
offer tips on living affordably in East Lansing


Home to over 50,000 students and spread across 5,200 acres, Michigan State University possesses one of the nation’s largest campuses and housing programs.

Its 27 undergraduate residence halls are split between five neighborhoods and present students with ample residential options.

While MSU’s housing program offers several degree-granting residential colleges, residential communities and special interest communities, it has been absent of a full-scale, schoolbased housing system.

School-based housing is a system in which students reside with peers in their major program and are in proximity to their physical college.

The question remains, what would implementing school-based housing entail for MSU’s housing program?

MSU Residence Education and Housing Services, or REHS, Associate Director for Communications Bethany Balks said moving to a school-based housing system is not something she’s heard REHS considering, but doesn’t think is impossible. She said enforcing school-based housing would require several different things, including student and faculty approval.

“You’d have to have every college thinking about supportive

programming,” Balks said. “You’d have to have student buy in that they’re okay with not necessarily having so much choice in where they live or who they live with, but that they’re focused on their school or college.”

It’s important to note that many students enter college undecided about their primary and career interests. Data shows students often change their minds about their desired major or college, particularly in the second year, Balks said.

“We have a lot of students that come here in the exploratory major,” Balks said. “They don’t necessarily want to

be tied to a specific school or college.”

Accounting for students undecided on their major would not be the only issue facing the enactment of college-based housing. Balks said not all schools or colleges may have the resources or desire to build livinglearning communities.

Mason, Abbot, Snyder and Phillips Hall Community Director Zach Grover said the financial implications of living-learning communities require commitment from all parties involved.

“We have folks that propose livinglearning communities or residential colleges and they’re expensive,”

S p a r t a n s S p a r t a n s

Grover said. “You have to have dedicated faculty and dedicated advisors.”

Despite such challenges, Balks said there are observable benefits to college-based housing, such as location and involvement. It would provide students with collaboration over shared academic interests and help develop a sense of belonging.

“It can be really beneficial to have the programming or activities that are related to that academic program and to have them conveniently located very close to where you live,” Balks said. “It helps with involvement, for sure.”

Graphic design freshman Carter Wheeler said he would’ve taken the opportunity to live in college-based housing had it been offered.

“It’s a great way to meet new people, talk about school, make new friends, it’s a great way to do that,” Wheeler said.

Students in James Madison College, Lyman Briggs College and the Arts and Humanities major can already opt-in to a residential college. Additionally, REHS offers several residential communities, such as the Honors College, Drew Scholars and the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE.

Grover, a former living-learning community member at MSU, said he enjoyed his time in the RISE program

L i v e H e r e ! L i v e H e r e !

and would love to see MSU’s livinglearning programs expand and continue receiving support from the university.

Although living with peers of similar interests can do wonders for a student, Grover said his ability to challenge his world views came from interacting with others outside the RISE program.

“Meeting so many folks from different majors can be beneficial to your experience and that global mindset that MSU promotes,” Grover said.

REHS also offers special-interest communities, including the Detroit M.A.D.E Scholars Program, College of Music, MSU Army ROTC and the College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP.

Many of MSU’s special-interest communities, such as Detroit M.A.D.E, CAMP and the Collegiate Recovery Community, are not collegebased. Some are supported by one or multiple colleges, like the RISE community.

Balks said a full-scale collegebased housing system would impact these established special-interest communities and cross-college collaborations.

“It’d be harder to have some of those interest-area living-learning communities if everything was college-based,” Balks said.

C O M E T A K E A T O U R : 1 5 5 C A S C A D E B L V D L A N S I N G , M I 4 8 9 1 2 | ( 5 1 7 ) 2 4 6 4 5 6 1 | L I V E U N I V E R S I T Y E D G E C O M
Illustration by Wendy Guzman


living in one of these houses or apartments, many being what people would describe as “horrifying.”


Kinesiology senior Lauren Wall said she has many stories to tell about the house on Spartan Avenue that she lived in junior year. With her bedroom being in the basement, Wall saw the worst of it when it comes to all of the, as she called them, “perks” her former house had.


With no place to stay, Wall ended up at The Graduate Hotel for a week and a half, with the landlord covering the cost of her stay. When Wall was finally able to return to her room, the problems with the house weren’t fixed. In fact, they had only just begun.

Wall said the room was very damp and she often took her clothes out of the closet to find that they were wet. In addition, there were many cracks in the walls of her room, where strange bugs would crawl out from the sides.

together.The water that had covered her feet had come from the toilet upstairs, due to a piping problem caused by overgrown tree roots.

East Lansing has a variety of off-campus houses and apartments where students primarily reside — many of them much older than what students are typically used to back home.

With aging buildings comes problems. Ask any alumni or current student and they can tell you a story about their experience

It all started on move-in day, during her 10hour drive from her home state, Minnesota, to East Lansing. Wall received a phone call from one of her roommates saying that it looked like her room was being renovated and she wouldn’t be able to move in for at least a week.

“They ripped out the floors, the walls, like everything and didn’t tell me,” Wall said.

“Just expected me to find out when I got there. And since I came from Minnesota, I felt like I couldn’t just turn around and go.”

Wall said that the reason for these renovations was due to neglect from the previous owners of a mold problem in the basement, forcing the landlord to completely tear up the room in order to clean out the

Water dripped from the ceiling onto her bed. She later found out it was caused by one of her roommates spilling a water bottle in the living room, which was right above her room.

Aside from water bottle spills, Wall said “dirt water” would fall from the ceiling onto her bed while she was sleeping and that the moisture problem in her room was so bad that her sandals became overgrown with mold.

However, Wall said the plumbing issues in her house far outweighed the mold. She recalled one time, amid taking a shower, the bottom of the tub started filling with brown water, engulfing her ankles.

Wall later found out this was caused by the line from the toilet and the shower draining

Wall and her roommates immediately had a plumber come to fix the problem. While the plumber was working, Wall describes hearing what sounded like a loud splash and then a scream from the plumber.

“I open the door and he’s covered in sht, like sewage water and he had apparently tried to unclog it from the basement and it just rained on him and left this giant puddle filling that entire room in our basement,” Wall said.

Wall said the plumber instantly left and never came back. She said the mess remained in the basement until the landlord sent someone to clean it up — multiple days later.

Despite the many issues, Wall said she had many fun experiences in her Spartan Avenue home. Her new home has lacked such issues and she plans to stay in it next year.



Plumbing-related horror stories tend to be a trend in East Lansing student residences. Journalism sophomore Allison Albin had a similar experience in her off-campus home early this fall.

Two weeks after Albin and her roommates moved into the house, their toilet started having problems. They called to have a plumber come fix it.

Instead of sending a plumber, Albin said the landlord sent a general maintenance man instead.

When maintenance was done fixing the toilet, Albin said she went into her bedroom to find it filled to her ankles with dirty water. She screamed and the maintenance man immediately came upstairs to see what was wrong. She said he then took out a pocket knife and ripped open the carpet in her closet,revealing a drain that had a loose lid.

“I had to throw away my brand-new rug, about half the stuff in my closet. I had to throw away my brand-new chair I bought from my room. I had stored probably around $400 worth of groceries, school supplies, like batteries, like cleaning supplies under my bed that were all destroyed that I had to throw away,” Albin said.

Albin then had to move out of the house for about two weeks until the housing company could fix the issue and renovate her room. For those two weeks,

Albin commuted to MSU from her hometown of South Lyon, which is an hour away from campus.

“It was so stressful and it was the worst move-in I could possibly think of,” she said.


Housing horror stories aren’t exclusive to houses. Following a pipe burst in the room above his, information science freshman Jake Toth found his room flooded.

He thought his roommate above him had left the shower on and immediately

went upstairs to find him. It turned out his roommate’s entire bathroom had also been flooded due to the burst as well.

“Obviously, my whole room was ruined so I had to get new carpet, basically a new bathroom and I was out of my apartment for almost a month,” Toth said.

The only personal belongings of Toth that were impacted by this incident were his bed sheets and a few notebooks, leaving the rest of the damages up to the management company to fix.

Although these stories can be quite deterring

when it comes to living off-campus, the majority of off-campus housing experiences are also filled with fun memories. Wall said she had many fun experiences in her Spartan Avenue home. Albin plans to live in her same house next year and even bring in another one of her friends to live there too. Toth has since moved back into his apartment, saying he is glad to be back with his roommates and back on campus.


“Obviously, my whole room was ruined so I had to get new carpet, basically a new bathroom and I was out of my apartment for almost a month.”
Jake Toth
Information science freshman
Mayo Hall on March 1, 2023. Photo by Sonya Barlow


Students say female NCAA athletes are ‘underappreciated’

The NCAA announced that the women’s Division I tournament was allowed to use the term “March Madness” in their title in 2022. The iconic phrase has been a part of the men’s tournament since 1982.

This same year, the NCAA expanded the women’s March Madness to 68 teams competing in the tournament. The men’s was expanded to 68 teams in 2011.

There has long been discourse surrounding how female collegiate athletes are treated compared to their male counterparts. Some students believe there is still a long way to go to make the NCAA more equitable for women.

Elementary education sophomore Tristyn Guerrero said the injustice that women face in the sports industry is absurd and is clear to see from an outside perspective.

The ways that men are treated compared to women within sports, especially collegiate basketball, “shows the history of how women have been treated,” Guerrero said.

“Overall, women in sports are treated completely differently,” Guerrero said. “They get less attention … they get fewer

resources.” Investigators found that, for a 2021 men’s tournament, the NCAA spent $125.55 per player

in the first two rounds, whereas for the women’s tournament, the organization spent $60.42 per player, according to a report by The

New York Times. The money they spent included signage and decor items, such as banners and posters.

Human biology sophomore Andy Kuo, who played competitive basketball until high school and has consistently watched college basketball for years, believes that the NCAA shows favoritism to men, especially when it comes to the March Madness tournament.

“I think that men get a lot of favoritism when it comes to watching and promoting the sports,” Kuo said. “The (MSU) women’s team is fantastic, and they are underappreciated all the time. They do not get a fair chance at the same advertisement and promotions that our men’s team does.”

The Kaplan Report, an assessment that the NCAA created, was constructed to track the gender disparities between the men’s and women’s tournaments. The budget for the 2019 March Madness tournament was one aspect of the report. The NCAA spent $28 million on the men’s tournament, while it budgeted $14.5 million for the women. The budget included


A comparison between attendance at women’s basketball vs. Penn State, and men’s basketball v Indiana. Photo by Jonah Brown
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Early education freshman Hayden Braun said she sees the NCAA is corrupt in the ways that they “scam” women, saying that the NCAA cares more about the men’s tournament because men “get more viewership”.

“It’s been a problem for a while, but I don’t think it’s a problem that has been highlighted until recently,” Braun said. “In the world of NCAA, they’re going to get the money any way they can.”

The report concluded that “the NCAA’s organizational structure and culture prioritizes men’s basketball, contributing to gender inequity.” But other ethical questions have been raised about how inequity is created for female athletes.

The NCAA has a revenue distribution for men, called the “Basketball Fund,” according to the Kaplan Report. The fund, in simple terms, gives colleges and universities more revenue if they go farther in the tournament. However, there is no similar fund for women.

The men’s tournament is broadcasted through CBS Broadcasting and Turner Broadcasting, whereas ESPN broadcasts the women’s tournament.

CBS and Turner supports all 90

games. CBS and Turner control the sponsorship rights for all NCAA championships but incentivize men’s basketball. CBS and Turner deprive women of sponsorships, which leads to less revenue.

CBS and Turner operate the March Madness Live app, which only includes updates about men’s games. The way that the NCAA has allowed this bias is “completely unfair,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero said that when women are treated equally to men in sports, it makes women feel more “empowered and valued in sports.” She also said that people, especially college students, have to “start shifting our attention” to female athletes more.

Kuo said giving more attention to the women’s teams is necessary, since the women’s teams, in basketball and in other sports, are just as good, or even better, than the men’s team of the same sport, but do not get the recognition that they deserve.

“We’re not taking for granted how great the women’s basketball players are just for how good they are themselves, instead of just comparing them to the men or comparing them to the best of the best,” Kuo said.

Kuo also believes the NCAA does

an organization,” Kuo said. “You would never hear the phrase ‘We need to support men’s basketball or support men’s football,’ but we do hear the phrase ‘we need to support the WNBA or women’s college basketball,’ which is totally the incorrect mindset and way of looking at it.”

An article by Sports Illustrated reveals that the NCAA potentially left tens of millions of dollars on the table by neglecting to recognize the earning power of the women’s tournament. The Kaplan Report also said that ESPN, which broadcasts the women’s games, does not allow for much free time during women’s games, such as pregame and postgame features and interviews.

Kuo and Guerrero agree that a simple way for MSU students to help gain support for the women’s team is to show up to the game, which is free for students. Kuo said this support would cause a drastic change.

Braun has a few solutions that he thinks may solve the problem of the favoritism between the men’s and women’s basketball teams: lowering ticket prices, playing more games on TV and not overlapping the March Madness games so that it is easier to watch both tournaments. He thinks that if the NCAA does

Last year, the Women’s March Madness Final Four was the mostwatched Final Four weekend since

college basketball since 2004, with 4.85 million viewers on the ESPN networks. Sophomore guard Matilda Ekh (11) attempts to get past Purdue Fort Wayne players at Breslin Center on Nov. 10, 2022. The Spartans defeated the Mastodons with a score of 85-53. Photo by Audrey Richardson

Family affair: Steven and Tom Izzo reflect fondly on 4 years together

For most people, Take your Kid to Work Day is a one-day event. A time when kids are encouraged to spend the day at their parents’ place of work, allowing them an inside look at what it is that their parents actually do all day.

For Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Izzo’s son, senior guard Steven Izzo, the day has lasted a bit longer. Four years, in fact, and the two couldn’t be happier about it.

“The experience for me has been phenomenal,” Tom Izzo said. “Just having him around every day, going on trips, seeing him get to warm up in some of the greatest arenas.”

The initial idea to join the team was Steven’s. After seeing the sons of other head coach’s walk-on at top programs — Tyler Underwood (father Brad) at Illinois, Saul Smith (father Tubby) at Kentucky — Steven approached his dad prior to his senior year of high school

proposing the same.

Tom was agreeable to the idea, but only if Steven played on his high school team at Lansing Catholic during his senior year.

After voicing hesitation about playing his senior season, Steven tried out for the team and made the roster. He began taking his game more seriously in anticipation of joining his father’s team the following year.

Steven appeared in 24 games during his senior year, compared to nine his junior season.

As Steven’s senior year ended and his freshman year at MSU approached in 2019, the Spartans’ head coach was uncertain what role Steven would take on the following year. He assumed team manager, if anything. Therefore, he was surprised when Steven asked him when summer weightlifting started. Steven intended to join the team as a player.

Surprised and unsure whether his son would be able to keep up with the rigors of

Division I college athletics, Tom’s fears were quickly realized.

“I’ll never forget that first day in the weightroom, he was throwing up and doing all the things that you do when you’re not ready for that kind of workout,” Tom said.

While Tom doubted Steven’s resolve to endure a summer of MSU men’s basketball workouts, Steven had other plans. He not only survived the summer but has remained a Spartan walk-on basketball player ever since. His father couldn’t be happier.

Lupe Izzo, the wife of Tom and mother of Steven, was confident that Steven would stick it out. Over the past four years, she’s been able

to see MSU men’s basketball from a different point of view: as a parent.

“I’ve always been Tom’s spouse as far as being the head coach’s wife and I have my role as far as basketball and university related things,” Lupe said. “These last few years have given me a new perspective of being a player’s parent.”

The Hall of Fame coach’s rigorous work schedule hindered his ability to be a typical father while his children were growing up, causing him to miss out on milestone events over the years.

“Most people get to raise their kids and I get to see mine from afar, cause I’m raising

Men’s basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo celebrates with his son, Steven Izzo, after becoming the coach with the most wins in Big Ten history with his 663rd career win. The Spartans celebrated last year’s seniors at the Breslin Center on March 6, 2022, along with Izzo’s milestone. State News file photo

everyone else’s kids,” Tom said.

While Steven admits he didn’t see his dad as much as he would have liked growing up, he said he never felt like he missed out on anything and that his dad always made it work.

During elementary school, he often joined his dad on weekend road games or recruiting trips. As Steven grew older, it became more difficult to travel with his father. Classes became more demanding, and middle school and high school sports took up an abundance of time.

“It was difficult, but he always made time for me,” Steven said. “I felt like he did his best and anything I could be included in, I was.”

The remark is bittersweet for Tom.

“It’s kind of cool that he looked at it like he didn’t miss out on that much, but it also makes me feel bad that, man, you don’t know how it should’ve been,” Tom said.

The Spartan walk-on understands the sacrifices his dad’s job requires, but also recognizes that he’s more fortunate than most coaches’ children, as his dad has remained working for the same team for 40 years, allowing him and his older sister, Raquel Izzo, to remain in the area.

“I have a great system,” Steven said. “A lot of coaches move around so they’re coaching at a school for four years and then moving to another school. I’ve been here for 22 years.”

After watching his son from afar for 18 years, Tom was able to get some of that time back.

When Steven’s decision to walk-on went public, the family received substantial backlash, alleging nepotism was involved and that Steven would be taking up someone else’s spot on the roster — somebody with a higher basketball IQ and therefore more deserving.

Tom acknowledges that welcoming his son to the team was the one selfish decision he

made during his time at MSU, but he made it for all the right reasons. Lupe tends to agree.

“Not only was it good for Steven, but I thought that it was going to be really good for Tom,” Lupe said.

Since joining the team in 2019, Steven has played a scant 39 minutes. Despite not being a rotation player, he attends practice every day, running through the drills and workouts like everyone else. He understands the responsibilities of being a roster member and works hard to ensure that his dad sees him as worthy of the privilege.

“Why is he on my team? Cause I want him on my team,” Tom said. “So, I can make up for lost time … and so he can experience some things that I think are very valuable.”

The two have a rule. When they’re in the Breslin Center or away at another arena, they’re player and coach. But as soon as they leave the premises, it’s back to father and son. Most of the time, the rule is followed, but not always. When Tom is gifted a technical foul, Steven is usually the one tugging at his shirt pulling him away from the official. And Tom loves that.

“There’s something about … him pulling on my jacket when I get a T,” Tom said. “There’s a bond to that, that’s special. I appreciate it, it really means a lot to me.”

Steven’s first road game as a walk-on was in November 2019 at Madison Square Garden for the Champions Classic against Kentucky. His dad pulled him aside and asked an announcer to take a picture of the two together at half court before tipoff.

With that, a tradition was born.

“I started doing it a little more that year and he thought it was dumb and by the second year I would get ‘Dad, we gotta take our picture.’ I think he looked at it as it’s gonna be pretty

cool down the line,” Tom said. As a fellow coach with two sons playing Division I basketball, assistant coach Doug Wojcik understands how difficult it can be to find a healthy father-coach balance, especially at a top-tier Big Ten program like MSU. Wojcik coached at MSU for two seasons prior to his return in 2018, including during the 2005 final four run. The veteran assistant coach has watched Steven mature and recognizes how much the past four years have meant to him and his father.

“It’s nice to see that father-son relationship, that father-son love,” Wojcik said. “I can see that they cherish their time together.”

As Steven’s senior season approaches its end, Tom and Steven reflect fondly on the four-year-long “Take Your Kid to Work Day” experience at a place that means so much to the both of them.

“I’ve made a lot of good decisions here; I’m sure I’ve made some bad decisions,” Tom said. “Having (Steven) on my team has been one of the greatest decisions I made.”

Men’s basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo during Michigan State’s game against Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at the Crisler Center. The game was MSU’s first back after the mass shooting on Feb. 13. The Wolverines ultimately beat the Spartans, 84-72. Photo by Chloe Trofatter