When the president of the United States has you winning his bracket, there is certainly some sort of expectation placed on your shoulders.
Yet, despite Barack Obama and numerous experts believing in Michigan State, they still have a tall task ahead of them being an under-seeded No. 4 in the East Region.
To advance to the Final Four, they’ll need to outlast the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds. In most years, that is a rather hard feat to accomplish, however, the Spartans drew one of the most favorable draws in recent memory.
They could have, arguably, the “worst” top three seeds in their bracket in No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Iowa State. In comparison, No. 1 Wichita State has to go through death row in No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Louisville. Likewise, No. 1 Florida has a dangerous No. 2 seed in Kansas as well as No. 3 Syracuse and No. 4 UCLA, both of which are determined to make deep runs to prove the critics wrong.
Meanwhile, the Spartans have the easiest path to the Final Four. An opening round matchup against No. 13 Delaware should be a cake walk. Their next possible game could see No. 5 Cincinnati or No. 12 Harvard. According to the experts, the Ivy League squad is a hot selection to pull off the upset. In the Sweet 16, Tom Izzo’s club could see No. 1 Virginia in the Sweet 16. This will be their toughest matchup, but it’s a game that won’t leave the Spartans overmatched. If Izzo’s team is able to keep themselves within striking range, they’ll most likely have what it takes to pull off the win to advance to the Elite Eight. There they could see Villanova, Iowa State or Connecticut. All three teams wouldn’t scare the Spartans and on paper, would probably be picked to lose against a Michigan State team, who by that point, will be on a serious run.
While their seeding is beneficial, it’s not like they’ll be able to coast their way through the tournament. A team needs to have talent, leadership and determination when it comes to March. It appears the Spartans have all three.
In their beatdown of Michigan in the Big Ten Championship, it was clear that the big guns for Michigan State were gearing up for March Madness. The trio of Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson and Gary Harris had spectacular games. In the paint, Payne racked up 18 points, nine rebounds and one block while the two guards combined for 30 points with Dawson collecting six boards and Harris stealing three balls.
With contributions like that, the Spartans will be able to compete in every game and most importantly, come out on top in Arlington on April 7.