I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way MSU makes a run.
That might be correct but, dang it, let’s get this glass half full.
While our Spartans skidded to a 3-4 end to the season, there are a few positives as we head into Michigan State’s 20th straight tournament berth.
We know the basics -- Miles Bridges is incredible and Ward is a beast in the post. But what about some of the positives we’ve seen late in the season as we head into March?
Matt McQuaid’s confidence
It’s no secret the baby-faced assassin in training had a tough time pulling the trigger earlier this season, and broad speculation has pointed to confidence for those reasons.
However, in the last seven games of the season the light has been a little greener as he’s shooting 10-for-24 (42 percent) from long range. As a 34 percent 3-point shooter on the season, it’s nice seeing him a) having the gusto to shoot those shots and b) make a few more of them.
Kyle Ahrens is having some moments
Kyle Ahrens has embraced his role of the “in case of emergency, break glass” player that Izzo rolls out when a few minutes need to be eaten. Ahrens hasn’t just been a guy to give anyone from Ellis to Ward a break, but he’s lately been a scoring option in his short stints on the court with 5-of-12 shooting from behind the arc in the last six games of the year. Those aren’t Steph Curry numbers by any means, but how many times this season have we looked at who’s on the floor and say “who will score on this lineup?”
Well, it looks like when Ahrens is on the court, he could be an option.
Ward on the foul line
Nick Ward has gone from being a liability on the free throw line to being a candidate to shooting technical free throws. (What, too far?)
Ward is a
kid man you can trust on the line now, and everyone knows how crucial shooting freebies is in the tournament. Since February not only has Ward been on a tear by scoring in double-figures in 11 out of 12 games, but he’s also been shooting free throws at a 71 percent clip.
Miami hasn’t been all too hot either
MSU isn’t the only team in this game to stumble to the finish line. The Hurricanes ended their season losing three of four with its lone win over Syracuse (what time is their NCAA Tournament game by the way?) and lost to Virginia Tech, Florida State and North Carolina. None of those are terrible losses but, hey, we’re not the only ones sliding into this game.
Breaking news: It’s Izzo season
Hey, I doubt you’ve heard this one before! Alright, so this isn’t the world’s hottest take, but taking a look at these numbers should ease the mind heading into Friday.
Alright, let’s crunch some numbers.
This will be Tommy Boy’s 20th straight tournament with the Spartans, and in his previous 19 he’s reached the second weekend 13 times. Not bad.
Also, Izzo has played teams from Florida twice (the Gators both times, but play along here) in the NCAA Tournament. He’s 2-0 against them and either wins the whole freaking thing (2000) or advances to the Elite Eight (2003) whenever he plays a team from Florida in the Big Dance. So what if that may just be trivial? Numbers don’t lie, people.