With a chance to pull off the upset of upsets, LIU Brooklyn's players took the court looking to make history.
The Blackbirds left the floor with their heads held high, but losers.
Unable to stop Draymond Green or match Michigan State's superior inside size, LIU's season ended Friday night with an 89-67 loss to the top-seeded Spartans, who were determined not to be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16.
Showing the fearlessness their coach had promised, the Blackbirds (25-9) gave the Spartans (28-7) all they could handle for about 30 minutes. But the final 10 belonged to a Michigan State team with few weaknesses.
"Those guys are monsters," LIU coach Jim Ferry said. "They're really good players, and they're really skilled. That's why they're a No. 1 seed."
Green, perhaps inspired by phone conversation with former Michigan State star Magic Johnson, recorded his second career NCAA tournament triple-double — the first player to do it since Johnson — and Derrick Nix added 18 points to pace the Spartans.
Michigan State began the night knowing No. 2 seed Missouri had lost to Norfolk State and Duke had been stunned by Lehigh.
The Spartans weren't going down, too.
Green wouldn't stand for it.
"The kid's a great player," Ferry said. "I thought he was a great player going in on tape. He's a great player live. He's going to have a very long career in front of him. He's just a fantastic basketball player."
The Spartans finally put away the bothersome No. 16 Blackbirds with a 14-4 run midway through the second half. Michigan State outscored LIU 47-30 after halftime to set up a third-round game with Saint Louis on Sunday.
Green had 24 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and no turnovers in 35 minutes. He joined Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players in history to have more than one triple-double in the tournament.
Afterward, Green showed typical humility in downplaying his accomplishment. His previous triple-double came in last year's tournament loss to UCLA.
"At the end of the day I'd much rather have a win than a triple double, because when you look at those record books it's going to say Draymond Green stats triple double and then it's going to say the score of the game," he said. "And the last one was a loss and this one was a win. So it don't really matter.
"It's just about getting wins this time of year, and I'm just happy we're able to do that."
Green didn't get into any specifics about his conversation with Johnson. The Hall of Famer was talking with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who put Green on the phone.
"I don't know what he said to him, but it might have been something good," Izzo said. "I might have to call him back. I'm proud of Day Day (Green's nickname). I'm pleased for him. Happy for him. And yet he's got a lot of basketball to go. "
The Spartans' 89 points are the most scored in the tournament so far.
Jamal Olasewere scored 17 and Julian Boyd and C.J. Garner had 15 apiece for LIU, a melting-pot team of players from all over the country who typified New York's street smarts and swagger.
The Blackbirds had the fight, just not the knockout punch.
"Watching Norfolk win definitely inspired us to come out here and try to upset Michigan State," said Olasewere, who is more convinced a No. 16 will beat a No. 1. "It will happen eventually. There's nothing wrong with thinking you could be the team to do it."
Ferry was sure his team wouldn't back down from the Big Ten big boys.
He was right as the Blackbirds were within five points at halftime. But an upset?
Still, Izzo was impressed with the Blackbirds, who felt slighted in getting a No. 16 seed.
"I really like that team," he said. "I thought they were really, really good."
Ferry was proud of his team's effort.
"I felt our guys really played their hearts out," he said. "We did a great job in the first half of really grinding it out. In the second half I just felt at times they kind of overwhelmed us with their size, whether it was scoring interior or just keeping them off the glass. We tried to change up a little bit, change up the flow, and they made some more shots.
"If we could have gotten a couple more of those, I thought we could have had a similar second half."