By Daniel Schmelzer @D_Schmelzer on March 17, 2014
Mostly due to injuries, the Michigan State Spartans have had a very up-and-down season. That being said, after a strong finish, including a dominant run through the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans are a common pick to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament. This is a talented team that has a legitimate chance to make a deep run as a four seed out of the East region. Here are five reasons why Michigan State is my pick to cut down the nets in North Texas.
First of all, there is no such thing as an easy road to the Final Four. However, as the four seed in the East region, the Spartans could not ask for a better path. Virginia is the top seed in the East, and as great as they have been, they are easily the weakest and least-proven of all the one seeds. Villanova is the two seed. They are very talented, but rely too much on 3-point shooting. On paper, Michigan State is the best team in this region.
Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Adreian Payne will probably be the stars of the show for the Spartans, but they are far from the only contributors. Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson are the other starters, and each contribute in a variety of ways. Travis Trice has been playing great minutes off the bench, and may be the best backup PG in the nation. Kenny Kaminski, Matt Colstello, Alvin Ellis and Russell Byrd also play key roles off the bench.
You simply must have great guards to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. As great as the big men are for the Spartans, their guards are the strength of this team. Appling and Harris make up arguably the best starting guard combination in the league, and Trice is fantastic off the bench. If they play to their potential in the tournament, these guards will be a huge reason for the Spartan's success.
Three things in life that are certain: death, taxes and Tom Izzo having Michigan State ready for the NCAA Tournament in March. No matter what adversity he has to deal with, Izzo always has the Spartans ready to make a deep run in March, and this year is a perfect example. Izzo also has an incredible amount of post season success and experience that will certainly help the Spartans along the way.
Heading into the season, Michigan State was one of the most talented teams in the nation. They struggled with injuries to key players like Payne, Appling and Dawson throughout the season, but now everybody seems completely healthy and ready to make a deep run. This is the same team that was loaded with talent at the start of the season. Without injuries, the Spartans would have rolled through the season and landed a one seed.
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