Finally, we’ve arrived. March Madness is upon us.
After playing through one of the toughest and deepest seasons in the history of the Big Ten conference, and going through over three months of the Big Ten beating the hang out of each other, the Michigan State basketball team (25-8, 13-5) found out on Sunday where they would be headed for the first couple of rounds of the 2013 NCAA Tournament
And the place they’re going to open up the tourney is not too far from home. This coming Thursday, after earning a No. 3 seed, Michigan State will make the short trek to the Palace of Auburn Hills to open things up against No. 14 seed Horizon League Champion Valparaiso Crusaders (26-7, 13-3).
“I’m excited to be close to home, to be here for families, to be here for travel,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “I love being at the Palace. I think that’s great.”
Players for the Michigan State also look forward to playing in the NCAA Tournament so close to home.
“We’re very excited where we’re playing at,” junior Adreian Payne said. ”We’re going to be down the street basically so we’re going to have a lot of fans coming.”
As for the Spartan’s opening round opponents, Valpo, their tournament history is largely remembered for a buzzer beating three pointer that spurred the 13th seeded Crusaders past No. 4 seed Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Bryce Drew, who hit that iconic shot 15 years ago, is now the coach of Valpo.
For Michigan State, if they can manage to get past the Drew-led Crusaders, their second round opponent would be either No. 6 seeded Memphis or the winner of the No. 11 seed play-in game between St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee. Others in Michigan State’s bracket include No. 1 overall seed Louisville as well as No. 2 seed Duke.
Needless to say, the Midwest Regional looks stacked, but with one of nation’s toughest schedules behind them, the Spartans should be prepared to take on just about anyone.
But for Michigan State, they just want to take in one game at a time.
“We got to take care of the first game first,” Michigan State freshman guard Gary Harris said. ”If we don’t win that game, there is no next game so we just have to concentrate on what’s in front of us.”
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