Is Michigan State Going to be Left out of the NCAA Dance?

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Only one team from last year’s Final Four looks to be in serious danger of missing this year’s NCAA Tournament. That college basketball team was also the national runner-up in 2009, and ranked #2 in preseason polls this year. They are the Big ten and the nation’s biggest let-down, the Michigan State Spartans (17-13, 9-9). North Carolina and Kansas State also had massive preseason expectations, and seen their struggles this season. However, the Tar Heels and Wildcats are getting hot at the right time- down the stretch.

There are plenty of reasons for the disaster that’s unfolded in East Lansing, Michigan: a myriad of injuries, the behavior issues of Korie Lucious and Chris Allen, a consistently catastrophic amount of turnovers every game, the severe regression of Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe’s knees that just won’t heal, Kalin Lucas not being 100% healthy until midseason, the freshmen and sophomore class lack of production, and of course, Tom Izzo sometimes losing his team due to his tyrannical tactics.

By Paul M. Banks

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But the way they turned things around in February, saving themselves from oblivion is somewhat impressive. In late January, the home loss to the Michigan Wolverines (who we found out are much better than we anticipated) followed by the absolute train wreck and defensive no-show in Iowa City, made us think they had phoned it in for the season.

And with good reason. Summers has been making only about a 1/3 of his field goals for over a month now, and he never plays defense. Last year’s NCAA Midwest Regional MVP no longer has a shred of NBA Draft stock remaining these days. Draymond Green’s scoring output has diminished, Roe doesn’t even come close to resembling a 5-star recruit, and the bigs have come up little all year long.

However, Lucas has carried them on his back down the stretch, and they got revenge on the Hawkeyes, Illini and the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately, they got swept by their in-state rivals. The Wolverines have now essentially leaped them on the bubble, meaning State is going to need bare minimum one, most likely two, and possibly even three (depending on how things shake out nationally in conference tourneys) in Indianapolis this week in order to go dancing.

Losing that crucial game in Ann Arbor Saturday means State is now forced to play on the opening day, Thursday, of the Big Ten Tournament, in the 7/10 game against Iowa. A win over Iowa does little to help their RPI, that is a no-win situation honestly. Well they have to win to stay alive for a bid.

Which bring us to State’s biggest problem- the Boilers in the quarterfinals. Given how they’ve been outscored by 30 combined in their two meetings this season, that’s NOT the match-up they want. And that’s what’s waiting for them.

So with a RPI of 44 and a SOS of 8, their resume has some strength. Joe Lunardi, the original “bracketologist has MSU as oen of his last four in. But that’s today! There will inevitably be some bids stolen this week. So if the #1 seeds start falling in some “two bid leagues,” MSU will fall down the bubble, and Sparty Nation will start sweating.

They have key wins over Wisconsin and Washington, and some decent wins over Oakland, Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State. Most importantly, they don’t have many bad losses- just Iowa. And they have a lot of allegedly “good” losses: Duke, Texas, UConn, Syracuse, Purdue twice and Ohio State.

So they’re not dead, but it’s in their best interest to reach Saturday or Sunday in the Big Ten Tournament to have a fighting chance. The Spartans are ironically known to be their best in March. I say ironically because they’ve been awful in the conference tournament lately, yet awesome in the big boy bracket. This March they’ll need to be solid in the pre-bracket, otherwise they won’t even reach the big one.

For more on Michigan State’s problems this year, go here

and here

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

 

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Comments

  1. They would let MSU in if they had a losing season. There are just some teams that will alway make it

  2. paulmbanks says

    with 9 sweet 16s in 13 years and 6 final fours in 12 years. they might get in on reputation. really it’s their rough scheduling that’s keeping them alive right now

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