For the 24th-straight season, Michigan State is participating in college basketball’s championship tournament. It’s been an up and down season, but the Spartans enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed and will play No. 10 Davidson in the first round.
There are plenty of storylines in the region, with MSU seeing Foster Loyer again and a potential battle with Duke looming. Taking it one game at a time, however, Davidson is a quality team that has shooters all over the floor.
The Spartans are one-point favorites as of press time, and the No. 7 against No. 10 matchup is always rich with upsets in the first round of the tournament. Here’s what our staff has to say about the matchup.
Michigan State 74, Davidson 68
Davidson keeps it close throughout the game, but Michigan State controls the pace and ends up with a single-digit victory. Foster Loyer inevitably drains four three-pointers, and Luka Brajkovic has a solid performance as well, but the Wildcats come up just short. Gabe Brown and Max Christie get their shots going in this game and lead the Spartans to victory.
Davidson 76, Michigan State 68
I’m doing everything I possibly can to mentally prepare myself for the 28 points on 8-for-11 three-point shooting that Foster Loyer is going to have in this game, so that when it inevitably happens, it will hurt a little less. Go Green.
Davidson 74, Michigan State 70
The more I look at this matchup the more I dislike it for MSU. Davidson shoots the ball well (especially from three), doesn’t turn it over, and clears the defensive glass. Plus the Wildcats have a stretch big man in Luka Brajkovic who shoots 40 percent from the arc. None of this sits well with me. I think Davidson pulls out a close one and Foster Loyer seals it with some free throws just to twist the knife.
Michigan State 73, Davidson 62
I realize Davidson’s offense is very potent and can cause problems for the Spartans. However, MSU should be bigger and more athletic at just about every position, even when the reserves come in. Realistically, what is stopping A.J. Hoggard from posting up Foster Loyer every time down the floor? If MSU can run the Wildcats off the three-point line, I think the Spartans will control the game and win easily. Now, if Davidson starts getting some open looks from deep and gains some confidence, look out. In the end, I think MSU has enough length to bother and disrupt the flow of Davidson’s offense. I see the Spartans being in control for most of the game.
Michigan State 73, Davidson 68
The Wildcats pose a real test, not only do they shoot the ball extremely well from the three-point line, but overall as well — it’s a legitimate top-20 offense based on efficiency. Davidson runs a five-out motion where all players will initiate plays outside the three-point line — the action is meant to force the defense to deal with the spacing from five moving parts. They’re patient and it leads to a fair amount of clean looks.
Davidson will not be on the offensive boards, which will limit the team’s second chance points, but perhaps the Wildcats’ best defensive attribute (it’s a rather average defense statistically) is they do not give up many transition opportunities.
This team has quality height and length, of their eight rotational players, only Foster Loyer and reserve guard Grant Huffman are listed under 6-foot-5.
I like Michigan State in a close nail-biting game, MSU’s three-point defense, athletic advantages and the fact Davidson doesn’t pressure the ball and force turnovers are compelling enough reasons for me to feel the Spartans can pull out the win.
Michigan State 78, Davidson 68
All of my metrics suggest that this game is a 50-50 proposition, at best, but it’s March, the Spartans have Tom Izzo, and it’s time to be an optimist. The Spartans play a good overall game and surge late to put Davidson away. Gabe Brown hits three shots from deep, Max Christie is a bulldog on defense and scores 15. Bingham turns into a vocal leader and dunks a lot. Foster Loyer scores 30, but it doesn’t matter. MSU moves on to face Duke on Sunday.
Michigan State 76, Davidson 68
Davidson causes headaches for the Spartans on offense, but Michigan State escapes to play another day.
Michigan State 77, Davidson 70
I don’t think that Michigan State will go far in the tournament, but the Spartans have enough weapons to defeat Davidson. I’ll take MSU by a touchdown.
Michigan State, 76, Davidson 67
Foster Loyer, after starting the game hot, cools off as a result of Michigan State’s adjustments. Freshman guard Jaden Akins augments his ever-expanding role and is tasked with blanketing Loyer. MSU inevitably shoots better from behind the arc than the Spartans did in the previous contest (28 percent).