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Madness Preview: Michigan State Spartans

My true homerism thinks the Spartans have what it takes to win the whole thing. Is it realistic to think they’ll beat Duke? No. Do my brackets have them doing so? You bet your ass

Sparty by Joel Dinda is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Madness Preview: Michigan State Spartans


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Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Let me start by acknowledging that this is a totally biased preview of the No. 6 team in the country going into the NCAA Tournament. I am a huge Spartan fan and recently acquired a glorious script lettering Number 33 State jersey. (33 was the number of my favorite player of all time, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.) Now that that is out of the way.

Michigan State Spartans: 2 Seed in the East Bracket

How They Punched Their Dance Card

Co-Big Ten Regular Season Champions; Big Ten Tournament Champions

The Spartans once again came into the season ranked high across the country. Returning quality players and having Tom Izzo as coach will do that. They lost their first game of the season to then No. 1 ranked Kansas, went on a small winning streak after that, lost to Louisville, and then went on another run. In the middle of the season things became sluggish and MSU dropped some games to some teams they should’ve beat. Namely, they lost twice to Indiana, who didn’t make the 68 team field. (This will be important later.) But by virtue of beating rival Michigan twice in the last 4 games, including the final game of the season, MSU was able to share the Big Ten championship with Purdue and secure the 1 seed for the Big Ten Tourney.

In the Tourney Final MSU would beat Michigan for the third time this season to cut down the nets and secure their bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Not that that was really ever in doubt)

Injuries

Along the way Sparty lost two of their biggest players to injury. Joshua Langford was averaging 15 points, 3.6 boards, and 2.3 assists before going down on January 31st with a season ending foot injury. The Spartans would also lose dynamic big man Nick Ward for the end stretch of the regular season. More recently, in the Big Ten Tournament Final, Kyle Ahrens went down with a bad looking leg injury. Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston has had to carry his team for portions of the season, logging insane minutes. He seemed to tweak his foot during the Big Ten semi-final game, but played through it like the Spartan Dawg he is.

Tourney Seeding

Here’s where I have an issue. The Spartans have more Q1 wins than any other team in the country, which was supposed to matter greatly in seeding. And yet they sit as the overall 6 seed in the brackets. And more importantly they’ve somehow been seeded into the same bracket as No.1 overall Duke. Which, is horseshit. Yes, they lost twice to Indiana, but Gonzaga only had 4 Q1 wins. 4! MSU has 13!!! And how does the number 6 overall end up playing the 1 in the Elite 8? Shouldn’t the 8 overall be in that position? Once again, the NCAA selection committee makes no freaking sense. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

First Match-Up

No. 15 Bradley Braves

The Bradley Braves won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and are representing the MVC. The MVC hasn’t lost in the first round in 9 years. Last year they were represented by Loyola, whom you may remember from their Cinderella Final Four run. However, that streak should end this year as they don’t seem to match up well against MSU at all. Granted, this is an MSU team that has failed to make it out of the first weekend the past 3 years, including falling in a 2-15 matchup two years ago.

Overall Prediction

My true homer-ism thinks the Spartans have what it takes to win the whole thing. Is it realistic to think they’ll beat Duke? No. Do my brackets have them doing so? You bet your ass. 40 years ago Magic Johnson beat Larry Bird in the greatest NCAA Final of all time to bring a title to East Lansing. This year sure seems like a good year for another one.

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