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NCAA Tourney Profile: Michigan State Spartans

Barring collapse, Sparty is in the Tourney

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin is #1. Rutgers and NW are #13 and #14. But that mushy middle, oh lord, that mushy middle.

I keep saying the main charm of this B1G season is that anyone can beat anyone. You turn on, say, Purdue v. Maryland, you're probably going to get a game. Shorthanded Michigan v...anyone, going to be a competitive game.

Well, sloshing through and slightly pulling their heads out of this primordial ooze of a mediocre middle are your Michigan State Spartans. A #9 seed looks quite probable now, according to SBN and ESPN bracketology.

A short primer on Sparty:

The Good

Shoot threes, lots of threes

Lockdown interior defense and don't forget Mavin Costelling, the incredible two-headed monster

Denzel Valentine, my vote for most improved B1G player of 2015

The Bad

No interior scoring

Inconsistent bench scoring



TOC says:

Of the three true bubble teams, I do think MSU has the best chance of the three - Purdue dug a massive hole in non-conference, and Illinois didn't really do much of note either. I'd put MSU's chances around 70%, with the magic number being five more wins (whether that's an 11-7 conference finish, 10-8 avoiding a disaster in the Thursday round, or 9-9 and making a run to the semifinals; the last of those is a little bit tenuous). Purdue and Illinois are both around 50-50. Michigan took a huge hit to their chances with two losses this week; I'd guess their chances are in the 5-10% range.

I tend to agree. Win 50% of your games on the way out, Sparty is in and the streak continues.

The Culture

People around East Lansing and Lansing are definitely aware of the NCAA Tourney Streak, that 17 year behemoth of a run that turned MSU into a "basketball school." Are expectations high for this team? Definitely not. The fans knew this team lacked the across-the-board talent + defensive toughness that has led to much success. So to watch this team fight and claw toward that Tourney berth, well, that's a great sign of a good hoops culture.