THE LOCALS LOVE THE SPARTANS

     Everyone with interest around these parts has a prediction for MSU's basketball team in the NCAA tournament.  Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal and Dave Dye of the Detroit News, both of whom cover the Spartans on their beat, don't even pick MSU to face Pittsburgh in the second round on Saturday.  They think the Big East champion Panthers will lose their first round game on Thursday to Oral Roberts.  Let's just say I disagree.  Both have Michigan State going to the Regional final in Houston and then losing, Dye thinks it will be to Marquette and Rexrode thinks Texas will win.  If State gets that far and I'm far from certain that will happen, I think Texas is a more likely opponent than Marquette.  And if State did face Marquette, then I like MSU over Marquette in that scenario.

     Silly me I think Temple is an ominous game tomorrow.  I'll pick State to win and then pick Pittsburgh on Saturday as many are doing.  I notice the national experts don't think of Michigan State's chances past this week end and many of the locals have them making a "tournament run", whatever that means, though nowhere do I find any reporter having them in the Final Four.

     In the past six years, the Spartans have bowed  out of the tournament in the first game and last year they were knocked out in game two by North Carolina.  So what does it all mean?  I think you look at a team's general condition-- MSU seems dangerous to me, but has some flaws and simply hasn't been in synch enough this season to convince me that a long tournament run is in the cards.  I'm not sure the Wisconsin game last Saturday still won't have some kind of hangover effect. 

     State's best shot was to beat Wisconsin, then beat Illinois to win the Big Ten tournament.  That likely would have sent State to the Midwest Regional-- the incentive would have been high to win twice and get to Ford Field and play in front of a partisan crowd.  Who knows what effect in terms of winning or losing that might have had but at this point we'll never know.  The Spartans are hoping for a Rocky Mountain high this week end to get to Houston next week.

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