Remember when I said that MSU would most likely get a 1 seed? LOL nope. They're a number 2 seed to the Midwest, and Virginia (LLLOOOOLLLL for a potential third year in a row matchup) is the 1 seed (find SB Nation's printable bracket here). Also in the bracket: Utah (3 seed), Iowa State (4 seed), Purdue (5 seed), and Seton Hall (6 seed). The Spartans will start on Friday against Middle Tennessee State. Let's answer some questions about the Midwest.
How tough is MSU's road to the Sweet Sixteen?
It shouldn't be too tough. Middle Tennessee State can shoot from threes (Giddy Potts is shooting a Bryn Forbes-esque 50% from three), but they're a 15 seed for a reason. The Spartans would then face the winner of Dayton-Syracuse, and although Syracuse is a "name team", they've also lost 13 games this season, and if ever there was a MSU team equipped to shoot over a zone, it's this one.
What Potential Upsets Should I Look Out For?
Due to some -- let's say eccentric -- bracketing by the committee this year, there should be a great chance for a couple of particular upsets. Seton Hall and Gonzaga are 26th and 28th in KenPom currently, and I wouldn't be stunned to see the 11th seeded Zags pull the upset.
Whoever wins that game, I am absolutely pencilling in to beat Utah. I've heard a lot of "Utah is scary" talk around the webs lately, and although they do have All-American candidate, Jakob Poeltl, the only two things they really do well are hit twos and avoid fouls on defense. They're also ranked lower in KenPom (29) than both Seton Hall and Gonzaga. If you want to make money in your pool this year, I heavily suggest you have Utah fail to make the Sweet Sixteen.
So I should definitely pencil in MSU to play Virginia in the Elite Eight, right?
Ehhh...the Hoos will have a tough Sweet Sixteen matchup against either Purdue or Iowa State. We've all seen how Purdue can give teams fits on defense, and not many teams can match up with the Boilermakers' size. Iowa State has beaten both Kansas and Oklahoma, so the Cyclones can matchup with the best of them.
If I had to guess right now, if MSU makes it through to the Elite Eight...I think it's Virginia. The one thing that limits Purdue is their lack of outside shooting, and three-point defense is a significant weakness for Virginia. I don't think Iowa State's defense is good enough either for an electric Cavalier offense.
If MSU makes it to Chicago, can I stay at your place?
What odds do you give MSU to make it to the Final Four?
I think it's a 50-50 shot. The start of the bracket starts well for MSU, but that Virginia game gets me worried. I know that the Spartans have handled UVA the last two years in the tourney, but they're still a great team that's ahead of MSU in KenPom and have won some big games this year. It's not unconceivable that Virginia shoots the light out in that game. With that said, Chicago should give MSU an advantage over any team not named Purdue. It's going to be a great tournament all -- enjoy it.