EAST LANSING, Mich. (WTNH) — Despite their No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, Michigan State is going to be one of the most popular picks to win it all in your bracket pool.
Everybody loves Tom Izzo and the Spartans in March, and for good reason. Michigan State never gets upset by a lower seed or mid-major team in the first few rounds, and almost always overachieves based on seed, having made trips to the Final Four as 4 and 5 seeds, and last year, amazingly, as a 7-seed.
The road to the Final Four won’t be easy for Michigan State though, as the Spartans may have to go up against No. 3 Utah, a red-hot Seton Hall team, and a Gonzaga team with two pros on its front line and a chip on its shoulder.
They could also face Georges Niang and Iowa State, a tough Purdue team it beat for the Big Ten title, and Virginia, which will be extra-motivated since Michigan State ended its season in two straight years.
Senior guard Denzel Valentine is the leader of this group, and he serves as Tom Izzo’s next Draymond Green, a do-everything forward who runs the offense and averages 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game.
Valentine is a lock for first-team All-American and could very well win the National Player of the Year award.
Will Michigan State win it all?
It’s not the chalk pick, but if I can go third-person for a second here, Kels Dayton doesn’t make any chalk picks. We like Kentucky’s young talent–the Wildcats have more NBA prospects than the Spartans–and we think they’ll gel like they did in 2014, when they advanced to the national championship game before losing to UConn.
Like Tom Izzo, John Calipari has a history of getting the most out of his teams come tournament time. Sure, he’s suffered a few heartbreaks in big games, but his teams almost never bow out early and often make unexpected runs based on seed, just like Michigan State.
If you like North Carolina out of the East bracket, we think both teams match up extremely well, and that should be a toss-up game. There’s no doubt that Michigan State is a smart pick, it’s just not the one we’re going with this year.