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Michigan State Spartans NCAA Tournament Primer: How far can the Spartans go?

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Michigan State opens with Bradley and lurks across the regional from Duke. Can Tom Izzo and Co. make another Final Four?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Michigan State David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 2019 Off Tackle Empire NCAA Tournament Primers! Over the next two days, we plan to preview the bracket and draw for each Big Ten team in the Big Dance.

[2] Michigan State Spartans NCAA Tournament Primer

Des Moines Pod | East Regional (Washington, D.C.)

Round 1: vs. [15] Bradley Braves

Round 2: vs. [7] Louisville Cardinals or [10] Minnesota Golden Gophers

Sweet 16: [6] Maryland Terrapins, [11] Belmont Bruins, [11] Temple Owls, [3] LSU Tigers, [14] Yale Bulldogs

Regional: [1] Duke Blue Devils, [16] NC Central Eagles OR North Dakota State Bison, [8] VCU Rams, [9] UCF Knights, [5] Mississippi State Bulldogs, [12] Liberty Flames, [4] Virginia Tech Hokies, [13] Saint Louis Billikens

Michigan State vs. Bradley

Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
Thursday, March 21, | 1:45pm CT | CBS

Boilerman Breakdown: Outside of their win over Penn State, there’s nothing that moves the needle about this team. If Sparty doesn’t cruise in this one, I’ll be stunned

Offense:
There’s not much to say about this offense. They’re not efficient, they don’t shoot well inside the arc, they turn the ball over at a high clip, and they’re not good from the charity stripe.

Defense:
Defensively, they’re average. Average efficiency, average at defending inside the arc, and...not much else. They let their opponents get to the free throw line and don’t generate a ton of turnovers.

First Look: Give us your initial impressions of their draw.

Andrew Kraszewski: Let’s start with the blue, lottery pick-laced elephant in the room: getting seeded with Duke when you have the most Q1 wins in the country and won your conference both ways sucks. It just does. But at some point, this Duke team is probably going to stand between everyone and the title.

MNW: There’s no one to be afraid of in that pod, but Andrew is, of course, right that this is a completely bullshit regional. Not only, as Andrew notes, is it predetermined (unfairly) that only one of three Big Ten teams will get to the Sweet Sixteen, but there’s no way Michigan State is the 8th-best team in the country and should be stuck against Duke.

LSU does little to inspire fear, though—it’s Sparty’s Elite Eight to lose.

Beez: I’m writing in more detail about this in a minute, but… TL;DR: the committee emphasizes games close to home over actually, you know, competitive balance and getting good matchups in the later rounds.

B1G Scouting Report:

Has your team played anyone in their pod? Anything to look out for?

AK: Oh hi there, two fellow B1G teams (yes, I know Maryland isn’t in the same pod but MSU could still see consecutive conference opponents). MSU didn’t lose to the Terps or Gophers, but they both have the athletes to beat MSU if they play their best game and MSU either has an off day or foul trouble.

MSU did take a loss to Louisville in the B1G/ACC challenge, but that was a true road game and feels like an eternity ago.

UPSET ALERT:

What’s the most likely possible upset to involve this team?

AK: Bradley shouldn’t be any cause for concern, but either Louisville or Minnesota would have a decent shot at springing the upset.

MNW: Hell, I’d be more likely to take the Cardinals or Gophers than I would LSU.

How far will they go?

AK: I want to believe. But the road ends at the Elite Eight at the very latest.

MNW: I’ve penned the Spartans into the Elite Eight. It’s unfair and dumb, but true.

Boilerman31: As much as I would love to see Sparty ride the disrespekt card to the Final Four, I can’t do it. Elite 8.

Poll

How far does Sparty go?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Round of 64
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Round of 32
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    Sweet 16
    (20 votes)
  • 37%
    Elite 8
    (109 votes)
  • 22%
    Final Four
    (66 votes)
  • 7%
    Runners-Up
    (23 votes)
  • 22%
    Champions
    (66 votes)
292 votes total Vote Now