The Spartans will open the NCAA Tournament with a clash against Bradley March 21 at 2:45 p.m. ET on CBS. Will the Spartans advance or will the Braves pull off a stunning upset? See what our writers think.
MSU 75, Bradley 65
This one will be closer than ideal - MSU is considerably better, but we won’t start great and they will. They have some shooters who will hit some shots early and hit some shots late to flatter the score-line, but MSU will hold them scoreless for 3 stretches of 4 mins or longer and MSU will own the defensive glass and get a lot going in transition.
Michigan State 84, Bradley 65
I am not going to pretend to know a lot about Bradley Braves basketball, but I do know that they average right around the number of points MSU holds it opponents to per game -- Bradley scores 66.6 (yikes) per game while MSU allows 65.5 points per game. Even if Bradley hits its average, that is not going to be enough to compete with the Spartans. I also know that Bradley’s media relations team and head coach tried to deny postseason media credentials to a longtime beat writer from the Journal Star because he “doesn’t promote Bradley Basketball.” The beat writer has since been reinstated, following backlash, but it seems to me this team and its leadership are very thin-skinned. I expect the Spartans to break their will early and never look back. Go Green!
Michigan State 81, Bradley 68
I think Bradley will hang around for a little bit, but the Spartans just have too much firepower and pull away down the stretch. Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid will lead the way, while Kenny Goins posts yet another double-double. The Spartans will cruise into the round of 32.
MSU 85, Bradley 57
It’s a weird feeling, but MSU is kind of the sentimental favorite to start the NCAA Tournament. Not only is it universally recognized that they were screwed by being put with Duke, they are playing a Bradley team that has already turned the built-in support of an underdog into general anger. MSU will role against a Bradley team that is not only just not that good, but also a bit overwhelmed by the situation and the coverage.
MSU 72, Bradley 54
I’m a sick person and for big games I can’t help to try to think of a nightmare scenario for MSU, just to mentally prepare myself. I’ve been trying really hard but genuinely can’t think of anything. Bradley is average is pretty much everything they do, and MSU has the likes of CASSIUS MOTHERF***ING WINSTON and everyone else, basically. I don’t see how this goes wrong for MSU, and yes, I’m knocking on every piece of wood within a 50-foot radius right now.
Michigan State 80, Bradley 60
From all indications, this MSU team can beat you inside or - if you take that away - from outside. The only concern I have for this game is if Bradley takes away the inside (not an easy task) and the Spartan’s shooting goes ice cold. But we’ve never seen that happen to MSU during opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, have we? I mean, what are the odds that the Spartans shoot 8 of 37 from three and 9 of 29 from two? That’ll never happen.
MSU 78, Bradley 69
Cassius and McQuaid shut it down towards the end. The game will be closer than everyone anticipated, but the Spartans will move on to the weekend behind McQuaid’s team high 18 points.
MSU 73, Bradley 58
The Spartans roll into the second round with a pretty convincing win. Bradley can be tough defensively, but the Spartans are just too much for them. MSU is able to hold Darrell Brown in check and while the Braves end up chucking up a bunch of threes, not enough of them find the bottom of the twine to make a difference. Michigan State moves on to Saturday with a no-nonsense performance.
MSU 76, Bradley 68
The game will be close heading into halftime, but MSU will start the second half with one of those runs we’ve seen against Michigan time and time again. The game will get close again at the end as a result of some garbage-time threes by Bradley, but the aforementioned run to start the half will have provided enough cushion to sustain this late surge.
Cassius Winston should be able to get 8-10 minutes of rest this game and both Nick Ward & Xavier Tillman should be able to have big games based on Bradley’s lack of interior depth. To that point, if MSU can get Koch Barr into foul trouble, the lop-sided rebounding margin that could result would make for a pretty ugly scoreline in MSU’s favor.