1. There are a number of methods to take a look at MSU’s draw. Mostly, it might be worse.
EAST LANSING – You may make an argument that Michigan State wound up with a depraved NCAA event draw because the 7 seed within the East Region — going through a more-than-capable USC group within the first spherical Friday in Columbus, Ohio, after which, extra daunting but, doubtless No. 2-seed Marquette in a second-round matchup Sunday. Marquette simply tore via Xavier within the Big East Conference event championship.
You may additionally make an argument that not one of the different different 7 seeds have a greater draw than MSU. The different 7s are paired with 2 seeds Texas, Arizona and UCLA.
It’s protected to say that if the Spartans get out of the primary weekend, they’ll have earned it. But all in all, MSU most likely couldn’t have hoped for something higher after dropping Friday to Ohio State within the Big Ten event quarterfinals.
USC’s resume has some tooth to it, but in addition some warts and plenty of wins in a nasty yr for the Pac-12. Marquette regarded scary this previous week, beating UConn and Xavier, however simply earlier than that, wanted additional time to flee a St. John’s group was about to fireplace its coach. Both USC and Marquette misplaced to Wisconsin. So they are often crushed. The finest information for the Spartans in making an attempt to win the weekend: USC ranks 328th in offensive rebounding, per kenpom, and Marquette is 319th. What a break for an MSU group whose greatest bugaboo is retaining sure opponents off the glass.
Moreover, whereas there are extra thrilling locations than Columbus for an NCAA event metropolis (talking for myself right here), for the Spartans, the brief journey means they’ll have extra followers available — greater than LA-based USC and a non-public college like Marquette. And the 12:15 p.m. tipoff time Friday might be a major benefit, provided that it’ll really feel like 9:15 within the morning to the Trojans.
“I thought it was beneficial not to go way out west and play on a Thursday,” Tom Izzo mentioned on Sunday evening, after reaching a record-setting twenty fifth straight NCAA event. No different coach had made greater than 24 straight. “It’s nice for our fans, it’s nice for our players, it’s nice for our families, it’s nice for our players’ families.”
It’ll be particularly good for them if MSU wins two video games.
2. What to make of USC
In two years, this will probably be a convention matchup for MSU. Think about that. The Trojans will probably be coming to Big Ten nation each different week.
The 10-seed Trojans have some similarities to MSU — they’re guard-driven, led by Boogie Ellis, who averages 18 factors per sport and may rating in quite a lot of methods they usually don’t beat you up within the publish. They’ve bought a 6-foot-9 guard from Illinois, Drew Peterson, who’s their second-leading scorer and main help man, and a 6-11 freshman in Joshua Morgan who’s a rim protector and rebounder however not a lot of an offensive menace.
They beat UCLA this yr, performed Arizona powerful twice, however in addition they have a loss to Oregon State, which is akin to MSU’s loss to a woeful Notre Dame group. The Trojans are able to taking part in with anybody. But not overwhelming or constant. They’re a mean 3-point taking pictures group. They defend the paint effectively.
USC would not look as fierce because the final time it confronted MSU as a ten seed, again in 2009, when, Izzo will let you know, the Spartans — as a 2 seed — had been fortunate to outlive. That was a harmful sport.
This time, on paper, at first look, it’s not an terrible matchup for the Spartans.
3. It’s a area full of doubtless fascinating matchups — if MSU can get to them
The Spartans can’t even peek on the bracket round them. They’re not anticipated to get out of the primary weekend. They haven’t completed so the final two NCAA tournaments. That’s a transparent aim this season. It’s one thing this system may use once more quickly, a postseason run. None of MSU’s present gamers have ever reached a Sweet 16, although Malik Hall and Joey Hauser had been on the roster in 2020 when the Spartans had been headed that method, earlier than the pandemic worn out the event.
“It’s something that we all want to do,” Hauser mentioned Sunday evening. “It’s something that we’ve voiced. We’ve made it a priority of ours … to win the weekend.”
To accomplish that, MSU will doubtless need to get via Hauser’s outdated group, Marquette, which misplaced within the first spherical of the NCAA event his freshman yr, earlier than he transferred to MSU.
If it occurs, the remainder of the East Region contains plenty of different acquainted foes and applications. At the highest of the bracket, Purdue is the 1 seed, Tennessee (who MSU scrimmaged this preseason) is the 4, Duke the 5.
Potential Sweet 16 matchups embrace 3-seed Kansas State and 6-seed Kentucky, which the Spartans beat in double additional time within the Champions Classic, and Providence, the 11 seed.
It’s a big-brand bracket. But there are most likely harder areas, notably the South with (1) Alabama, (2) Arizona and (3) Baylor.
The Spartans have slightly extra to them than another years they have been a middling seed. But, it is simply as clear by now, they’re additionally very able to being one and completed.
Contact Graham Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.