Pat Caputo - Michigan earned NCAA tournament bid, MSU did not

Rachel Hardy
March 14, 2017

The 49ers made the field each season of the NCAA tournament's first decade - 1982-92, including going to back-to-back Final Fours in 1987-88. "It's a chance to extend our season".

There is a plausible path to the second weekend, albeit still an unlikely one.

The book on Michigan State's Tom Izzo is written: he went into the Hall of Fame past year and is one of the best coaches in NCAA Tournament history with seven trips to the Final Four and a national championship in 2000.

The Spartans compare favorably to Miami from a size - or lack thereof - standpoint, and should they win will likely meet No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round.

OR and Louisville would be a superb round-of-16 game, the difference perhaps being Louisville's superior health.

3 - Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in Kansas City, Mo.

Michigan State University will also play in the Midwest Region. Home-court advantage favors the Jayhawks.

4 - Experience in bunches - Another major factor in deep tourney runs is experience.

On what he has to do differently in the next five days for the players to realize it's not AAU and the finality of this tournament...

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"It was nervous just waiting and waiting", senior guard Carlbe Ervin said. And of course there is the Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who has taken seven teams to the Final Four and won two national championships. Beyond that, Self's willingness to adjust on the fly, inspire toughness, emphasize team defense and balanced offense puts Kansas in great shape to make a run year after year. They're a nightmare matchup for Iowa State, the 5 seed, but also for KU's 4-out-1-in look this year. Center in Louisville, KY. Though Oklahoma State struggled to start the conference season, their only non-conference losses came against North Carolina and Maryland.

"They really weren't on our radar, but we are excited about the challenge", Jacksonville State's Greg Tucker said.

Drumwright leads for JSU players in double-figure scoring at 12.6 ppg.

The other No. 1 seeds project to be familiar faces, too: ACC champ Notre Dame, SEC champ SC and Baylor, which won the Big 12 regular-season title but then ran into the aforementioned Morgantown Express in the league final.

10 - Team defense still improving - It's no secret that this team has not been up to the usual Bill Self standards on the defensive side of the ball. "We've just got to plug in the different pieces now".

11 - Battle tested by Big 12 - It's been a long time since the Jayhawks had a night off.

The Mountaineers' climb to the Big 12 automatic berth, ending Baylor's six-year reign as tournament champ, is just one of the interesting stories going into Selection Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET). Then the 0-6 start in Big 12 play threatened to keep the cloud of apathy hanging over the hoops program.

Tom Izzo's boss was the head of the NCAA Tournament selection committee this season.

One of my favorite quotes from World War II was the quote credited to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who in the movie Toro, Toro, Toro as the Japanese Imperial Naval Fleet is steaming away from near Hawaii and toward Japan following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, is said to have summed up the military action this way. "I think they're ready to try to make a run and that's the time of year it is so we will see what happens".

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