Well despite finding out they would be without Nick Ward for a while, the Spartans went out and took care of business at home against Rutgers, and then pulled off the win in Ann Arbor against their rivals over the weekend.
The win in Michigan certainly was one for the tournament resume, but the Spartans still have some work to do. Before we get into the brackets, lets look at some other interesting stats.
The Spartans lead the nation in “Quad One Wins” with 11, Kansas is second with 10, followed by Kentucky and Virginia with nine each. These are based on the NET rankings the committee will use as one of its primary tools for seeding. The Spartans have a chance to pick up two more Quad One wins with their road game at Indiana and their home contest with Michigan.
Looking at the Kenpom numbers, it shows the Spartans with 12 wins in Tier A games. They are 12-4 overall in Tier A contests, with nine of those wins coming away from the Breslin Center.
The 12 wins for MSU are equal to the total number of Tier A games that Kentucky has played, and the nine road/neutral wins for MSU are the same as the total Tier A wins for both Kentucky and North Carolina.
The nine road/netural wins are also equal to the total amount of Tier A games for Tennessee.
MSU has two more Tier A games (Indiana and Michigan) and a Tier B game (Nebraska), left on their regular season schedule.
All this is really to say that MSU has played a very strong schedule this year, and has done very well against top opponents, especially away from home, which the committee USUALLY rewards.
Now on to the brackets...
All five of the brackets have MSU as a two seed as of now. Four of them have been updated since the weekend, with the NCAA.com one being the lone hold out.
All of the brackets that project first weekend locations have MSU playing in Des Moines as well.
NCAA, CBSSports, and Fox all have Michigan State as the two seed in the West, with new AP Number One Gonzaga as the top seed in the region. Two of the brackets have Marquette as the three seed in the region, with the other having LSU as the three.
The other two brackets each have MSU in different regions.
SBNation has the Spartans as the two seed in the South region, with LSU as the three seed, and Virginia on the top line. That bracket also has a potential second round matchup with either defending champ Villanova or a rematch from earlier in the year with Texas.
The ESPN bracket, filed this morning, is by far the most favorable for MSU in my opinion. It puts the Spartans as the two seed in the Midwest, playing Montana in the first round and the winner of Washington and VCU in the second round. The three seed is Houston, and the top seed is Kentucky.
The NCAA bracket hasn’t been updated since the weekend, but Andy Katz did move the Spartans up to sixth in his Power 36 list so it’s possible that MSU will maybe get a more favorable location in his next bracket projection.
Andy Katz put out a new bracket this afternoon which has Michigan State as the number two seed in the East region, playing the first weekend in Des Moines. He has a first round game against Wright State, which might bring some painful flashbacks for some Spartan fans.
The second round would feature the winner of the UCF/Baylor game. Marquette is the three seed and...Duke is the on the top line in this newest bracket. Katz has MSU listed as the 7th overall seed behind Tennessee and North Carolina, which I don’t agree with based on the quality win information I gave earlier, and the NET rankings, we are about to look at.
The Spartans are also up to sixth in the current NET rankings, ahead of such teams as Tennessee, North Carolina, and Michigan.
What does this all mean? Well I believe that MSU is probably pretty close to being locked in as at least a two seed barring a catastrophic finish to the season.
The Spartans have been a two seed for quite a while, including the projections that the committee put out after they had lost three straight. Since then they have won five in a row, including at Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as home wins against two other projected tournament teams in Ohio State and Minnesota.
Even if MSU drops one of these last three remaining games, I feel pretty confident that a two seed is in the cards for them. They have put together a good resume, and they are playing down a few players.
However, if the Spartans can win out the regular season, adding two more Quad One wins, then you have to start thinking about a one seed being in play. Especially if they get a few more wins without Ward, and he is slated to come back for the tournament.