Matt Charboneau, James Hawkins, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer their predictions for how far Michigan State will go in the NCAA Tournament.
Matt Charboneau: Don’t count on anything crazy happening in the first round this season as Michigan State’s size and depth should overwhelm Patriot League champion Bucknell. It could get tougher in the next round as TCU is the 6-seed that will have to dispatch the play-in winner of Syracuse-Arizona State. Any of those teams will be a challenge for different reasons, but ones the Spartans should take care of to get out of the first weekend. Things start to get tougher in the Sweet 16 as a potential rematch with Duke awaits. The teams played a tight game back in December, but with just one victory over the Blue Devils in 12 games, coach Tom Izzo likely will see his team head home short of the regional final.
James Hawkins: Michigan State will get to stay close to home and play the first weekend in its backyard, where it should have no trouble picking up two wins. Things will get tricky though with a possible matchup against second-seeded Duke looming in the Sweet 16. And while the Spartans have the talent to reach the national championship game, the Blue Devils will prove to be a formidable roadblock they won’t be able to overcome.
John Niyo: Michigan State might get a scare from TCU in the second round, because Jamie Dixon’s team is more than capable of raining threes on anybody’s parade. But assuming they advance, they’re stuck with a familiar problem: Duke. Maybe this is the year they finally solve that mystery, borrowing from North Carolina’s zone-busting playbook in the ACC tournament. But I just don’t see it.
Bob Wojnowski: The Spartans have the chip back on their shoulders and will show it by routing Bucknell and Arizona State at Little Caesars Arena, setting up another showdown with Duke. Tom Izzo is 1-11 against Mike Krzyzewski, but motivation (and better defense on Grayson Allen) will carry the Spartans to victory. They’ll then edge Kansas to make the Final Four. There, Villanova will end the run, 72-69.