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4 Reasons Everyone Is Picking Number 4 Seed Michigan State To Win It All
If ESPN analysts are to be believed, Michigan State is the best number four seed to ever grace a bracket. All five “Bracketology” experts — Seth Greenberg, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Jay Williams and Dick Vitale — picked MSU to escape the East and win the national championship.
For everyone to be so high on a 4-seed is puzzling, if not outright disconcerting at first. Even if Michigan State was a number one seed, or the number one overall, it would be strange for there to be so much agreement among the experts — especially on ESPN, where argument is king.
Then I filled out my own bracket. And on my first run through (I fill out the same bracket six or seven times before it’s “done”), I had MSU winning it all. It’s just how it worked out.
Why is everyone picking the Spartans to win it all? I can think of four main reasons:
1. They have 1-seed talent.
Michigan State was ranked number one in the country earlier this year, and for good reason: They’re good at basketball. They were tabbed as the favorite to win the Big Ten and Gary Harris was named the Preseason Player of the Year. They ended up falling short of winning their conference outright (for reasons detailed below) but they’ve got elite talent in big man Adreian Payne, point guard Keith Appling and Branden Dawson, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Big 10 Tournament. These guys are veterans of the college game, and they know what it takes to compete in the high-stakes Big Dance.
2. They’re finally healthy.
The reason MSU wasn’t consistent throughout the year comes down to injuries. Since New Year’s Day, the Spartans have dealt with injuries to Appling (wrist), Dawson (hand) and Payne (foot). Dawson’s injury was particularly brutal, and the team’s resurgence since his return shows how important he is to the program. The team is fully healthy now heading into the tournament, for the first time since they were considered one of the best in the country.
3. They’ve got “momentum.”
Momentum is a big factor for most people when picking their tournament winners. Does it actually mean anything? Probably not. But it feels important. And when you get back all of your injured players and storm through the Big 10 Tournament, beating in-state rival and number 2 seed Michigan handily, you have momentum. MSU isn’t quite Wichita State hot at this point (not losing all year = all the momentum) but to go through the B1G wringer and come out stronger than ever is impressive, and it makes an impression.
4. Tom Izzo is their coach.
Tom freakin’ Izzo. Do you know how good this guy is? He’s made the Final Four at least every four years that he’s been a coach at MSU (19 years). That means every recruiting class under Izzo has gotten a taste of the Final Four — and this year’s class hasn’t gone yet. Some really good coaches seem to disappear at tournament time (see: Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh), but Izzo and his team get better as the season goes on. When the game is on the line, you want a guy like Tom Izzo on your sideline. And here he is.
Bonus reason: Have you seen their region?
Cakewalk, relatively speaking.
While Michigan State shouldn’t be considered the favorite to win it all — that distinction goes to Florida, the country’s top-ranked and perhaps most complete team — they’re definitely the trendy pick. Where do you have them falling in this year’s tournament, if at all? Let us know… by filling out a bracket and competing against us.
Photo via Getty
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