Will Michigan State pull it all together for a magic March run?

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Ashton Voorhees, Reporter

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Starting as the second-ranked team in the preseason AP poll, and ending as the fifth-ranked team in the nation, a three seed was an underwhelming evaluation to most State fans. However, you don’t count the Spartans out in March, no matter what the seed.

It’s not a well-kept secret that March is coach Tom Izzo’s favorite month of the year. Solid postseason run after solid postseason run have seen Michigan State establishing themselves as perennial contenders to make a run in the big dance. But still, the Spartan’s haven’t got the final job done since 2000.

The Spartans are in the dangerous midwest bracket this year. Kansas may be one of the softer one seeds in the field, but Duke and Auburn loom as other top seeds in the field. If Michigan State can make it past Duke, and past Kansas or Auburn, it will be likely downhill from there. There are no real favorites this year. Virginia, the first overall seed, has trouble producing enough points to hang with the best. Villanova and Xavier are Big East schools, and Villanova has been the only Big East school as of late that has repeatedly shown they can compete with anyone outside of the conference.

A lack of a real favorite means that the odds aren’t stacked against the Spartans. Miles Bridges has great playmaking ability, and Jaren Jackson Jr. is a force down low with 3.2 blocks per game. Cassius Winston has developed into a scorer and knocks down over half his shots from deep. Joshua Langford can pull the trigger on any mid-range jump shot despite limited space and is a threat to make every single one. In short, Michigan State has all of the star pieces that national champions have on their team.

The question has not been if State has the pieces this year, it’s been whether those pieces come together into the perfect puzzle at the end. The team hasn’t played the best together, with an offense that isn’t as free-flowing and efficient as it should be despite the great players. There isn’t a go-to senior leader that stays on the court and can take control. The team is exceptionally talented, but young and raw.

Izzo has a special talent of galvanizing teams into being more than a sum of their parts, particularly in March. The way he gets the best out of his guys is one of the big reasons he’s a hall-of-fame caliber coach. If he can find the way to get the best out of this team, it will be lethal, and Michigan State will take no prisoners in the tournament this year.

Whether Izzo figures out the magical formula to get the best out of everyone on this team remains to be seen. The way I see it, State either stumbles early if he can’t, or takes it all the way if he can. It may very well be that the Spartans will stumble in the Round of 32 against TCU, or in the sweet sixteen against Duke. But if there’s one person you don’t want to bet against in March, it’s Tom Izzo.

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