Michigan State Spartans' Blueprint to Win 2013 NCAA Tournament

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Michigan State Spartans' Blueprint to Win 2013 NCAA Tournament
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Spartans battle Valpo on Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Although it's March, the Michigan State Spartans aren't shoo-ins when it comes to making a sustained run in the NCAA Tournament

After finishing Big Ten play with a mediocre 3-4 record (including conference tournament), the No. 3-seeded Spartans (25-8) now face the challenge of contending with the No. 14-seeded Valparaiso Crusaders (26-7), a Horizon League power, on Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 

Michigan State was once considered a national title favorite earlier this season, but due to inconsistent ball handling and poor shooting, coach Tom Izzo's team may be ripe for the picking when it squares off with Valpo. 

That being said, it's difficult to ever discount Michigan State during The Big Dance. When hot, the Spartans are capable of running the court with the nation's elite.

In this slideshow, we'll look at what the Spartans must accomplish during March Madness to earn a trip to the Final Four in Atlanta and give Izzo his second national title with Michigan State since 2000. 

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