CBS, for ratings sake, hope Cinderella has a slipper on hand for the #3 Michigan State (25-8) vs. #14 Valparaiso (26-7) game.
Tom Izzo was quoted saying, “I’d rather play the Lakers than another Big Ten team.” He got his wish, and thankfully he’s facing Valpo and not Kobe.
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The Michigan State Spartans started the season losing to Connecticut in Germany and ended it by losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. In-between those losses, the Spartans had a very good season.
Even though MSU’s roster isn’t the best squad on coach Izzo’s watch, they cut their teeth through a tough Big Ten schedule. They played some of the best teams in the country multiple times and should do well in this year’s tournament. As long as MSU’s Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne show up, the Spartains will be fine.
The Valpariaso Crusaders always find their way near the top of the Horizon League standings. They’ve had a few lean years in recently memory, but Valpo is back. Bryce Drew took over coaching duties from his father Homer Drew and continued with his recruiting methods. Valpo always puts an emphasis on international scouting and it it paid off again.
Australian-born Ryan Broekhoff and Netherlands-born Kevin Van Wijk are Valpo’s best players. Valpo relies heavily on their production. If they’re off, Valpo doesn’t have much chance of winning, especially against a ranked team.
It’s nice to see Valpo back in the tournament, but they are a bit out of their league against Michigan State. The Spartans should, at the very least, make another Sweet Sixteen appearance. At that point, we could see Izzo and Coach K having a “coach off”.
Prediction: #3 Michigan State Spartans
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