Men's hoops No. 3 seed in NCAA Tourney, faces Bucknell in first round
The last time the Spartans played, they had no idea which team awaited them in the NCAA Tournament.
Or which region they’d be in.
MSU (29-4 overall), however, is headed to the Big Dance for the 21st consecutive season, this time as a No. 3 seed in the Midwest region.
The Spartans will head to Detroit to play at Little Caesars Arena against No. 14 seed Bucknell in the first round Friday. The winner will play either No. 6 seed TCU or No. 11 seeds Arizona State or UCLA Sunday.
"I didn't have any clue on where we would be seeded, and I've said it before and I'll say it again, it didn't matter to me," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "They'll play anybody, any place, any time theory still holds true, but it's nice to have a short ride."
According to the NCAA selection committee, the Spartans were selected as a No. 3 seed based on metrics measuring their strength of schedule (ranked 112th), RPI (T-15th) and lack of Quadrant 1 wins (two wins).
Bucknell (25-8) have won its last eight. The Bison won the regular season Patriot League title and the conference tournament outright.
"We’re going to spend a lot of time preparing, a lot of time getting better and when we step out on the court we’re going to be the best team that we can possibly be," sophomore point guard Cassius Winston said. "That’s going to be our goal every night no matter the venue."
MSU has won 13 of its last 14, with the only loss coming from a 75-64 decision against University of Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal on March 3. The Spartans’ first round game will be their first in 13 days.
"It’s been great practice for us," sophomore wing Miles Bridges said. "We got into the gym a lot and watched a lot of film. We worked on our offense, our defense, so I feel like we’re going to be better on our offense, our execution is going to be better. I feel like our defense we’re going to stay disciplined."
The 21 consecutive NCAA Tournaments — all of which are under Izzo — is the third longest in the NCAA, behind No. 2 seed Duke, 23 straight, and No. 1 seed Kansas, which clinched its 29th-straight berth.
"Right now, I can't say that I use the word impressive very much this last six weeks," Izzo said. "I'm sure my day will come when I do, because it is a heck of a feat and what it is it's, it's consistency, and that was my ultimate goal the day I got this job."
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Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:56 p.m. on March 11.