The Michigan State Spartans are going dancing again for the 11th time under head coach Suzy Merchant, and for the second straight tournament. The Michigan State women’s basketball team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, one of seven Big Ten teams overall, five of whom also feature their men’s team in the NCAA Men’s Tournament as well.
RT if your school is going to both the Men's and Women's NCAA tournament! pic.twitter.com/9MkXN1nvHK— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 15, 2021
The Spartans are the No. 10 seed in the Mercado Region and will play the seventh-seeded Iowa State Cyclones on Monday, March 22 at 6 p.m. EDT on ESPN. The winner of the matchup will play the winner of the second-seeded Texas A&M Aggies and 15th-seeded Troy Trojans.
The Cyclones have a list of impressive wins from their regular season, including ranked opponents Baylor and West Virginia. The only common opponent for the teams was the Iowa Hawkeyes. MSU split the two games the Spartans played against the Hawkeyes, while the Cyclones suffered a close two-point loss to Iowa in December.
Iowa State is led in scoring by junior guard/forward Ashley Joens. The 6-foot wing player averages 23.6 points and 9.2 boards per game. Meanwhile, Nia Clouden leads the Spartans, averaging 18.8 points per game. The 5-foot-8 junior point guard shoots 46 percent from the field and was both an All-Big Ten First Team selection and All-Big Ten Tournament Team honoree. Sophomore guard Alyza Winston averages 11.1 points per game.
This year’s tournament will take place solely in the greater San Antonio region of Texas, hence the names of the bracket regions for this year. The regionals are named for famous sites in the city: the Alamo, the Hemisfair, the Mercado, and the River Walk.
Michigan State is joined in the Mercado region of the bracket by fellow Big Ten members Indiana (No. 4 seed) and Rutgers (No. 6 seed). North Carolina State is the No. 1 seed in the region, and Stanford is the overall top seed in the tournament. The Maryland Terrapins are the highest seeded Big Ten team, earning the No. 2 seed in the Hemisfair region.
MSU is in the NCAA tournament for the 17th time and owns a 19-17 all-time record in the event. The Spartans have reached the second round in four of their past five postseasons (2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019).
The Spartans were a No. 9 seed when they last reached the tournament in 2019. Nia Clouden, Tory Ozment, Mardrekia Cook, Laurel Jacqmain, and Claire Hendrickson are the lone players on the MSU roster to have appeared in an NCAA tournament game.