NCAA Tournament: Michigan State good, but gimme a break
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter March 17, 2014 10:29PM
Michigan State forward Adreian Payne hoists the championship trophy after Michigan State defeated Michigan 69-55 in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Big Ten Conference tournament Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
- NCAA Tournament brackets
- NCAA Tournament: Staff predictions
- NCAA Tournament: Where the Big Ten teams are headed
- Let’s hear it for Wichita State Nation!
- Virginia joins other No. 1 seeds in NCAA Tournament
- NCAA Tournament picks from our expert
- Michigan State tops Michigan for Big Ten Championship
- East Region: Matchups, schedule
- West Region: Matchups, schedule
- Midwest Region: Matchups, schedule
- South Region: Matchups, schedule
- Duke’s Jabari Parker wins top freshman award
Updated: April 19, 2014 6:29AM
Now that ESPN’s college basketball analysts have ruined the NCAA tournament for the rest of us without so much as a spoiler alert, what should we do with our lives for the next three weeks? Take a crash course in Mandarin? Train for an ultramarathon? Spend more time with our fam— . . .
Check that. Let’s not get too crazy.
No, we still will sit on our rear ends and watch basketball until our brains settle somewhere near our stomachs, but how fun will it be after Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams all picked the same team — Michigan State — to win the championship?
ESPN had five guys give their picks after the brackets were announced Sunday, and all five went the same way (with a No. 4 seed, no less). And three of them picked Louisville as the runner-up.
That’s . . . well, it’s ridiculous.
The Spartans are good, maybe even potentially great. But no team is ‘‘consensus pick’’ great. Certainly not this season, when there’s such balance among the contenders, and not in the vast majority of seasons.
Every once in a blue moon, a team such as Kentucky in 2012 comes along that everyone can see is on its own level. Arizona looked to be such a team for a while this season before a key injury hit. Kansas appeared for a while to have ‘‘consensus’’ potential, but it never quite took shape. Same for a few other teams, including Michigan State.
By the way: Six of the last seven national champions were conference regular-season champions and
No. 1 seeds. The Spartans are neither.
South vs. Midwest
As the brackets were being revealed, there was an instant outcry about how impossibly stacked the Midwest Regional is against No. 1 seed Wichita State.
On Monday, there were a lot of fan and media voices suggesting that Florida, the No. 1 seed in the South Regional that might have to fight through UCLA, Syracuse and Kansas, has an even tougher road to the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
No chance. The instant outcry was right on the money. Wichita State could face a murderer’s row of Kentucky, Louisville and either Michigan or Duke. The Shockers would be perceived as underdogs in at least two of those games. The Gators will be the favorites in any matchup.
That’s a whole lot of big
Your bracket aside, you want to see New Mexico State, the 13th seed in the West Regional, upset San Diego State (very doable) and keep going from there.
Why? The main reason is 7-5 Aggies center Sim Bhullar, who’s a better-than-decent player (and did we mention he’s 7-5?). The Aggies play a couple of 6-10 guys, too. This is the tallest college team in, like, ever.
Did you see where Indiana athletic director Fred Glass was quoted as saying the Hoosiers — snubbed by the National Invitation Tournament — wouldn’t accept a bid to the CBI because, ‘‘We’re Indiana, [and] we don’t play in the CBI’’?
Glass was criticized by a lot of folks for his comments, but big deal. Indiana doesn’t have to go along with a third-tier tournament if it doesn’t want to. Its fan base rather would dive straight into the difficult process of forgetting this season ever happened.