Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says his Spartans "are a championship team" as they enter the NCAA Tournament. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
When it comes to Michigan State's seeding in the NCAA Tournament, college basketball's top bracketologist says the selection committee probably got it wrong.
But, Joe Lunardi says that's not going to stop the Spartans.
ESPN's NCAA Tournament bracket expert says Michigan State is a Final Four pick, despite sharing the East Region with top-seeded Duke.
Michigan State (28-6) is a No. 2 seed, and will open 2:45 p.m. Thursday against No. 15 seed Bradley in Des Moines, Iowa, after defeating Michigan, 65-60, on Sunday to win the Big Ten tournament title.
A popular opinion was the championship — along with conference tournament losses from Gonzaga and Tennessee — would be enough to move Michigan State to a No. 1 seed, or at least a high No. 2 seed away from Duke's region.
That didn't happen. Not that it's going to matter, Lunardi says.
"Yes, Michigan State should be in the West," Lunardi says in a video posted to ESPN. "Yes, the committee probably goofed with the Wolverines and the Spartans. But, I think Michigan State's a tough matchup for Duke, and it may have been Duke that was disadvantaged by this potential Elite Eight pairing.
"I'm putting the Spartans — shorthanded, or not — in the Final Four. No one has more Quad 1 wins (13) in the country. No one has played better away from home."
The Spartans are 8-4 in true road games, and have won five of six games on a neutral court this season, including three at the Big Ten tournament in Chicago. The Spartans have done so despite dealing with a rash of injuries, including a season-ending injury to starting guard Joshua Langford and a broken hand that cost center Nick Ward the final four games in the regular season.
On Sunday, Michigan State lost key reserve Kyle Ahrens to an ankle sprain.
"Another injury? Another big win," Lunardi says. "It doesn't seem to matter to Sparty, who have a chip on their shoulder by being the No. 2 seed to Duke's No. 1."
Michigan State has 15-1 odds (sixth-best) to win the national title, according to VegasInsider.com, while Michigan is at 18-1. The favorite is Duke (11-5), followed by Gonzaga (5-1) and North Carolina (6-1).