Michigan State put together a stellar 29-4 season that has allowed the Spartans to earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, which was revealed Sunday evening. Although Michigan State came up short in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Michigan, the Spartans’ overall body of work was more than enough to impress the selection committee.
Michigan State is a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region and will play No. 14 Bucknell (25-9) on Friday in Detroit. The winner of that game will take on No. 6 TCU or No. 11 Arizona State/No. 11 Syracuse. The Sun Devils and the Orange will play in the First Four in Dayton, with the winner playing TCU.
Michigan State won 14 consecutive games from November to January and 13 consecutive games during a stretch from January to March. The Spartans should be a dangerous out in the NCAA Tournament because they rely on a balanced scoring effort.
Five Michigan State players average double figures in scoring, led by sophomore sensation Miles Bridges’ 16.9 points per game. Nick Ward averages 12.6 points per game and leads the team in rebounds at 7.2 per game. Cassius Winston averages 12.6 points, Joshua Langford 11.7 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. 11.3 points. The Spartans also have received solid bench contributions from the likes of Matt McQuaid and Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., who started for Michigan State’s Final Four team in 2015.
Recent NCAA Tournament history
- Defeated Miami (Fla.) 78-58 in first round
- Lost to Kansas 90-70 in second round
- Lost to Middle Tennessee State 90-81 in first round
- Defeated Georgia 70-63 in first round
- Defeated Virginia 60-54 in second round
- Defeated Oklahoma 62-58 in Sweet 16
- Defeated Louisville 76-70 in Elite Eight
- Lost to Duke 81-61 in Final Four
- Defeated Delaware 93-78 in first round
- Defeated Harvard 80-73 in second round
- Defeated Virginia 61-59 in Sweet 16
- Lost to Connecticut 60-54 in Elite Eight
Tom Izzo has guided Michigan State to seven Final Fours, and the Spartans certainly have the talent to make yet another trip. Michigan State’s only losses this season have come to Duke, Ohio State and Michigan twice. Michigan State has victories against North Carolina, Notre Dame and Purdue, among others.
Bridges is the type of player who can carry a team to the final weekend of the college basketball season. But several players are capable of contributing in any given game, which should make Michigan State a formidable foe the NCAA Tournament.