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We are only weeks away from the Selection Sunday for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but the outlooks for the Michigan State Spartans is still unclear. The team has had up and down seasons to this point, with the Spartans coming off a win against their rival in the Michigan Wolverines. Here is what the near future may hold for Michigan State:
Miles Bridges, Tom Izzo’s young star freshman, is likely an NBA Draft lottery pick should he decide to become a professional in the spring. That said, his role with the inexperienced Spartans has been very unclear so far. He’s played off the ball as a shooting guard sometimes and down in the paint as a forward other times, and this inconsistency has played a major role in the team’s roller coaster season so far. Both Izzo and Bridges are to blame for this issue, although it is more on Izzo’s shoulders to put Bridges in the right spot to succeed. Lately, the two have got the job done. Michigan State is 1-3 in its past four games, but in all of them Bridges has had a large impact. An NCAA Tournament run type of impact. His performances against Purdue and Michigan have shown he truly can put his talents through the proper mediums in order to excel on the court, which is a huge factor in the Michigan State’s formula for future success.
Besides Bridges, Nick Ward has been an All-Freshman-heck, and All-Big Ten-type of player and competitor in Big Ten play. Due to battling the flu, Ward only played 16 minutes against Michigan. However, his impact was nothing short of crucial as he put up 13 points and grabbed four rebounds. Other freshmen like Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston have also found their niche in the Spartan’s lineup and have improved mightily since the start of the season.
But it all comes down to one player and one player only: Eron Harris. The senior shooting guard is sporting a measly 12 points per game, five fewer than he did as a freshman at West Virginia. He is much more talented than that, and his explosive yet short lived bursts of athletic and high level play have shown that. In order for the Spartans to make the tournament, he must be in the top two in scoring the rest of the way and must play an instrumental role as a leader. That is what is expected of Tom Izzo seniors.
Michigan State must win at least 19 games to get into the NCAA Tournament. They sit today with 13. Upcoming games against Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio State, and Illinois all provide great opportunity for the Spartans to win enough to get into the big dance. Future challenges against Purdue and Wisconsin also provide opportunities for the Spartans to bolster a barren resume with losses against blue bloods like Arizona and Duke and struggling teams like Northeastern, Penn State, and Ohio State.
Although the Spartans feature a 13-9 record, an NCAA Tournament appearance is certainly in the cards for Michigan State. The team is talented and young, although that youth is slowing starting to fade away as we get closer to the end of the regular season. Plenty of opportunities still present themselves for the Spartans, and Michigan State needs to capitalize. This is absolutely no given, but if Izzo and his young team simply win the games they should win and maybe pull off an upset or two, they should be in a formidable position to make the NCAA Tournament