Michigan State: 5 Reasons Why Final Four is Likely
5 Reasons Why Michigan State is Final Four-Bound
Michigan State is known for their late runs in March. Tom Izzo seems to be a regular in the Final Four and if he can do it with a team that wasn't ranked in the preseason, he can do it with this year's squad that's chock-full of talent.
The Spartans have been one of the best teams in the country this season and have progressively gotten stronger, as all Izzo-coached teams usually do, as the season went on.
Michigan State was a preseason top-15 team looking to hit their stride at the start of the season before putting it all together for Big Ten play. They went on to win 11 of their first 13 conference games. Being in the top conference in the country, that is quite the accomplishment.
Although a grueling three-game stretch which resulted in three straight losses stood between a second-place finish in the conference and a Big Ten title, they were still one of the most consistent teams all season long.
Any team that has to play Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin in four consecutive games will be sure to have success and be prepared for the tournament.
Izzo is also one of the most successful coaches in the NCAA Tournament of all-time, and looks to extend his success into the 2013 season. It's extremely possible as this is one of his best teams since becoming head coach 18 years ago.
Here is why the Michigan State Spartans will make a strong Final Four run, despite the possible opponents of Memphis, Duke and Louisville.
Keith Appling's Slump is Over
Keith Appling went through a slump at the end of the season that worried many Spartan fans. He scored 18 points in a three-game stretch that looked to be a sign of bad things to come for the junior point guard. He struggled when the Spartans needed him to deliver most — the toughest three-game stretch of the season for the team. Since breaking out of his slump, the point guard has averaged 16 point a game and looked like the Appling of old. Bad news for the rest of the tournament field.
Gary Harris Shoots Lights Out
Gary Harris is easily one of the best freshmen in college basketball today. He had a stellar freshman season, averaging 13 points a game and shooting 41 percent from behind the arc. Tom Izzo rarely has freshmen that come in and produce instantly, but with Harris' talent, it was next to impossible to keep him off the court. He is deadly from long-range, and will be a tough matchup for any team that stands in the Spartans' way.
They Match Up Well With Every Team
The Spartans are a tough matchup for the top teams in the Midwest region. They have two big guys in the starting lineup that can both score. Adreian Payne can score from anywhere on the floor, making for a difficult matchup for any big man on other teams. It's not often that big men have to worry about going out to the perimeter to guard their man and that's what makes Michigan State tough.
Their guard play is also top-notch. Keith Appling is one of the best point guards in the country, while Harris is the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Branden Dawson is one of the most athletic wings in the country and can rebound better than anyone his size in the entire Midwest Region. Matchups are key, and Michigan State looks good from that standpoint.
Tom Izzo is 'Mr. March'
Tom Izzo has earned the nickname 'Mr. March' by his colleagues and fans everywhere. He always has his Spartan teams ready when the calendar turns to March and basketball becomes madness. Michigan State usually makes a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Spartans have lost just three times in the first round, made 10 Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights, six Final Fours and two championship games with 15 straight tournament invites. Let's just say this guy has success. Oh, and it's been way too long since he's been to the Final Four — it's been three whole years.
Michigan Has Been Waiting for a Rematch With Louisville
Michigan State played one of its worst tournament games in 2012 against the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16. The No. 1 seed Spartans had a nearly impossible time scoring against the smothering Louisville defense and finished the game with a loss, 57-44. It's not often that a team makes Michigan State look bad, but Louisville did just that. The Spartans shot just 28 percent for the game and had just four points coming from the bench. This season will not have the same result as Michigan State has been waiting for a rematch for the team that made them look silly just a short year ago — and trust me, they won't let that happen again.
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