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NCAA Tournament Profile: Michigan State Spartans

The moment the entire season has been about is here. No pressure.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Seed: 3, Midwest region

First Round Opponent: Bucknell, KenPom 101, RPI 82

Line: MSU -14.5

Preview: Between the still-fresh calamity against Middle Tennessee State two years ago and Bucknell’s history of claiming a blue blood scalp or two in the tournament, one assumes MSU at least isn’t looking past this game, and if that’s the case it should be an easy enough win. Plus, the game is in Detroit before what will be a Spartan-dominated crowd.

And yet. Bucknell aren’t scrubs, having ripped through the Patriot League with ease, and perhaps most importantly has last year’s tournament team completely intact. This moment won’t be too big for them. MSU will have had almost a 2-week layoff (thanks, Delaney) and when last seen, were again laying an egg against Michigan in an early exit from the BTT. The talent edge should be too much for the Bison to make it close, but stranger things have happened.

Beyond The First Round

For the first weekend, there isn’t much to fear. Assuming they don’t faceplant against Bucknell, MSU faces the winner of TCU and the play-in game between Arizona State and Syracuse. TCU is decent enough, but nothing to fear, and neither of the other teams should even be in the field. On paper, Syracuse’s zone would cause some concern given how utterly flummoxed the Spartans looked every time they faced one this year, but this ain’t a vintage Syracuse squad. With the team they’re fielding and playing the first weekend in Detroit, there is absolutely no reason not to make the Sweet Sixteen with relative ease.

And then...

Coach Effing K will send MSU to an ignominious exit.

It doesn’t seem to matter the circumstances or the stakes: when MSU meets Duke, MSU loses. I don’t get how all the national pundits picking MSU to make the Final Four or win it all are ignoring this, but they are. Duke is better now than they were in their early-season win over MSU, wherein Marvin Bagley III barely played. And if by some miracle Izzo notches his second win in twelve tries against K, his reward is Kansas.

So look at it this way: if MSU does clear the Midwest region and make another Final Four, they are absolutely winning it all. But that’s just not going to happen, and a season that started with infinite promise will likely have to settle for a regular-season conference title.


How far will Michigan State go?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Dumped in the Round of 32
    (1 vote)
  • 23%
    Sweet 16
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    Elite 8
    (2 votes)
  • 10%
    Final Four
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 52%
    (29 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now