When the Selection Show was finished and I printed off my first fresh bracket of 2009, something struck me as I looked at the match-ups: Michigan State has it made in the shade.
Don't get me wrong, the NCAA Tournament is highly unpredictable, but sometimes logic outweighs chance. Here are some logical reasons why MSU will make it to Detroit.
Looking at the bottom half of this region, I notice that there are really no scary teams present. Let's look at some potential matchups for the Spartans:
Boston College: While the Eagles had one nice win against Duke, this team LOST TO HARVARD, AND BY 12!
USC: This team is hot right now, but they are young and have little experience. I don't doubt their talent, but I also don't see them putting together a performance that would send the Spartans home.
West Virginia: "Huggy Bear" has this team playing pretty well, but it's going to be tough to beat the Spartans when the Mountaineers lose to Dayton in the first round.
Dayton: This is the team that could make some noise. They handled Marquette earlier this season and are kind of a wild card because they don't get much exposure.
Kansas: After losing just about everybody from their National Championship team last season, the Jayhawks recovered and put together a good season. But looks can be deceiving.
Kansas capitalized on a shaky Big 12 and stockpiled wins against bad conference opponents. They got mauled by Texas Tech and Baylor just in the past 10 days. Also, the Spartans absolutely dominated them when they met at the Bres.
If and when the Spartans make it out of their half of the bracket, they will most likely meet either Louisville, a hot team who would undoubtedly pose the bigger threat to MSU's title run, or Wake Forest, a team that started the season on fire but has cooled off recently.
I see Michigan State beating Louisville in the Elite Eight to make it to Detroit.
Tom Izzo has possibly one of the most talented squads he has ever coached. I think getting out of the tough Big Ten schedule and playing some less defensive-minded teams will open up the game for the Spartans.
Izzo will have this team ready. And if Korie Lucious can play like he did against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, that is just another weapon Izzo will have at his disposal.
Travis Walton, Goran Suton, and Marquise Gray have done this three times already. They are poised under pressure and will be integral pieces to this team's title chase.
Even the younger Spartans got to experience the Sweet Sixteen last year, so they know what tournament play is all about.
In a single-elimination format, anything can happen. A star player (such as Raymar Morgan) could pick up two quick fouls and be on the bench for the entire first half. Therefore, it's important to have players who can come off the bench and give the team a spark.
Michigan State has guys like Durrell Summers, Chris Allen, Korie Lucious, Marquise Gray, and Draymond Green who can come off the pine and help the team not miss a beat.
That is where the smaller schools fall off. They may have a good starting five, but if they lose one player, it's hard for them to recover.
While depth is important, it is more important that your team's superstars perform. Lucas has the ability to carry this team on his back and win a game on his own. If Lucas is on his game, there is nobody in the country that can guard him.
So there you have it; four solid points leading to the Spartans reaching the Final Four. This team is built to make a run this year, and I don't see any team in their region that will stop them.
Hopefully, come this weekend, Robert Morris won't burst the bubble. For all of you Robert Morris fans out there, I didn't mean to ignore or overlook you. It was an honest mistake.
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