College Basketball: Michigan St. Foes Are Green with Envy

George BarnetteContributor IFebruary 1, 2010

EVANSTON, IL - JANUARY 02: Kalin Lucas #1 of the Michigan State Spartans brings the ball upcourt against the Northwestern Wildcats on January 2, 2010 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 91-70. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Once again, Michigan St. is rolling along and looking a lot like the team that made it to the national championship game last season.

For all intents and purposes, the Big Ten regular season title is locked up and they’re just really playing for NCAA tournament seeding.

Led by reigning Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas, the Spartans are balanced offensively and can do more than just win with defense and rebounding. Three other starters are averaging double figures in points.

The schedule does begin to stiffen for the Spartans, though. They still have games coming up against Wisconsin, Ohio St, and Purdue. While they might slip up a little down the stretch, expect the Spartans to win another Big Ten regular season title walking away.

A brief side note: This rumor about the NCAA tournament expanding has me concerned. It is so unnecessary. I can understand expanding it to include three other teams. This reeks of greed by the NCAA and it minimizes conference tournaments.

Stock Up: SEC. Last year, the SEC had an uncharacteristically down season, but it seems to be back in a big way this year. After needing a surprising run by Mississippi St. to get three teams in last season, it looks like the SEC has at least seven teams with legitimate NCAA tournament hopes. It’s been a great bounce back year for the conference.

Stock Down: Notre Dame. It was a rough week for the Irish. After Villanova blew Notre Dame out on national TV, Notre Dame completed it’s terrible week by losing to Rutgers. It is going to be a real challenge for the Irish to get an at-large bid at this point.

Stock Up: Murray St. It is no surprise that the Racers are racking up wins in the Ohio Valley. However, what they’re doing right now is nothing short of amazing. The Racers are 13-0 in conference, have won 11 games in a row and beat the next best team in the OVC, Morehead St, by 30. The Racers are now rolling towards a Bracket Buster showdown with Morgan St. with the momentum of a freight train.

Stock Down: Harvard. There was talk that there might be a chance that the Crimson could get an at-large bid. Not now. In the much anticipated showdown in the Ivy League, Cornell destroyed Harvard and buried any thoughts Harvard had about reaching the NCAA tournament. Looks like Harvard will have to be satisfied with the NIT.


This week’s bracket projections

Last Four In: California, Marquette, Wichita St, South Carolina
Last Four Out: Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut


1. Kansas vs. 16. Lehigh/Jackson St. Oklahoma City
8. Xavier vs. 9. Florida St.
5. Gonzaga vs. 12. South Carolina Spokane
4. Butler vs. 13. California
6. Mississippi vs. 11. Old Dominion New Orleans
3. Wisconsin vs. 14. Coastal Carolina
7. Missouri vs. 10. Clemson Jacksonville
2. Georgetown vs. 15. Maine

1. Kentucky vs. 16. Arkansas St. Milwaukee
8. Wake Forest vs. 9. Texas A&M
5. BYU vs. 12. Marquette San Jose
4. Ohio St vs. 13. George Mason
6. Northern Iowa vs. 11. Florida Oklahoma City
3. Texas vs. 14. College of Charleston
7. Rhode Island vs. 10. Arizona Providence
2. West Virginia vs. 15. Morgan St.

1. Syracuse vs. 16. Jacksonville Buffalo
8. Oklahoma St vs. 9. UNLV
5. Georgia Tech vs. 12. Wichita St. Spokane
4. Temple vs. 13. Pacific
6. Tennessee vs. 11. Cincinnati New Orleans
3. Kansas St vs. 14. Murray St.
7. UAB vs. 10. Richmond Milwaukee
2. Michigan St. vs. 15. Weber St.

1. Villanova vs. 16. Robert Morris Providence
8. Cornell vs. 9. Charlotte
5. Vanderbilt vs. 12. Utah St. San Jose
4. Baylor vs. 13. Kent St
6. New Mexico vs. 11. Mississippi St Jacksonville
3. Duke vs. 14. Oakland
7. Pittsburgh vs. 10. Siena Buffalo
2. Purdue vs. 15. Sam Houston St.