Saturday, July 24, 2021

Fans react to MSU's tournament seeding

March 18, 2021
<p>MSU fans attend the Big Ten basketball tournament for their first game against Maryland on March 11, 2021.</p>

MSU fans attend the Big Ten basketball tournament for their first game against Maryland on March 11, 2021.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

"MSU got screwed."

Graduate public policy student Tyler Foti was not happy with the Division I Men's Basketball Committee and their decision to seed Michigan State as one of the First Four in the NCAA Tournament, forcing them to play-in against UCLA on Thursday.

"We were punished for losing to Northwestern and Minnesota, but not rewarded for being the only team to beat two number one seeds and a number two seed," he said. "The committee seemed to be rewarding Syracuse and Utah State for not having double digit losses."

Midwest region No. 11 seed Syracuse ended its season with a 16-9 overall record, falling to Virginia, 72-69, in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals.

South region No. 11 seed Utah State ended its season with a 20-8 overall record, falling to San Diego State, 68-57, in the Mountain West Championship Finals.

"The committee chairmen, when asked by Seth Davis of CBS about seeding Utah State over MSU, gave a half answer and made it seem like MSU was put in the first four for ratings," Foti said. "In my belief, MSU should have been seeded higher. ... NET is a garbage statistic, as coach (Tom) Izzo said, and it's a shame the committee strictly went by the numbers and not by the eye test."

"The ratings should not factor into the selection committee's decision," international relations freshman Ronak Sringari said. "It should be the quality of the team."

He sighed in frustration when asked about MSU's position.

"It was terrible," he said. "We beat two one seeds, and a two seed, which I don't think any other team in the country has, except maybe Ohio State, who is a No. 2 seed. Every projection, all of the bracketology experts, had MSU as high as a No. 10 seed to one of the last four byes at the very minimum, so to have us in the first four was just off of everything."

Sringari, too, was quite upset about Syracuse and Utah State's positions.

Syracuse had one ranked win in the regular season, whereas MSU had three. The difference he pointed out was that Syracuse's win was over then-No. 16 Virginia Tech and MSU's wins were over then-No. 5 Illinois, then-No. 4 Ohio State and then-No. 2 Michigan.

"The NET rating was, I think, the second worst at-large team NET rating," he said. "NET sucks in general, though. Wisconsin had the same number of losses as us in the same conference and was (27) in NET rating, which was almost 50 spots ahead of us. Penn State, which had a losing record and MSU won against head-to-head, was 42, which is almost 30 spots ahead. Indiana, which MSU beat twice, and is 12-15 (overall), was at 63. Kentucky, which had (almost) double the amount of losses to wins (at 9-16 overall), was somehow 10 spots ahead."

Finance sophomore Aaron Embrey agreed with Foti and Sringari, citing that he was surprised by the results and expected at least a No. 10 seed.

"I don't think the selection committee did a good job in placing Michigan State, and it could adversely affect them in the long run," he said.

He compared this season to the 2019 season, where MSU won the Big Ten regular season and tournament and everyone expected them to be at a No. 1 seed, but they ended up as a No. 2 seed, having to play Duke.

"It's one extra game we have to play, if we want to make a run in the tournament, and MSU has (five) Quadrant 1 wins, which is more than the two teams that were seeded higher than them," Embrey said.

MSU will play to get into the tournament against the UCLA Bruins on Thursday at Mackey Arena. Tipoff is set for 9:57 p.m. and the winner will progress on to play No. 6 seed BYU on Saturday.

Foti is nervous.

"MSU has struggled at Mackey," he said, reminiscing on the Feb. 16 game where MSU lost in a 10-point deficit. "I don't think the rims like us very much. Let's hope since it's not Purdue, that we have better luck."

UCLA doesn't have a 7-foot-4 center like Purdue does with Zach Edey. UCLA's biggest player is redshirt junior forward/center Jalen Hill, who stands at 6-foot-10. MSU's biggest player is junior forward Marcus Bingham Jr., who stands an inch taller at 6-foot-11.

"Tyger Campbell and (Johnny) Juzang ... are nice players, but I think MSU matches up well against them," Foti said. "We also have faced UCLA two years in a row in the (Las) Vegas tournament and in Maui so there is familiarity."

Sringari noted that UCLA is a talented team, also mentioning the Kentucky transfer Juzang and Campbell, who was "a beast" at La Lumiere High School. Sringari also said that UCLA has a good number of veterans, including senior guard Chris Smith and redshirt junior forward Cody Riley.

"I think they're under-seeded too," Sringari said of MSU's first opponent. "The PAC-12 kind of drags them down, but (that conference) is disrespected yearly."

Embrey said he's watched some of UCLA's games and noticed they like to play at a slow pace, which is the polar opposite of the green and white.

All three students believe that MSU will 100% be the team to knock UCLA out of their socks Thursday night.

"When they're hot, they're one of the best teams in the country," Sringari said. "They've proven that."

Predictions between the three students have MSU making it as far as the Sweet 16, at best, and the round of 32, against Texas, at worst, based on the teams in the region — though the ceiling is the Final Four.

"But, you never know with Izzo and Michigan State," Embrey said. "A lot of the times, his teams that are seeded lower tend to just go on these crazy runs and surprise a lot of people."

The sky's the limit for the Spartan men's basketball.

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