Heading in to Selection Sunday, most thought the Michigan State Spartans would receive a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Oregon Ducks were rewarded for winning the Pac 12 regular season and conference tournament and the Spartans had to settle for a #2 seed. This still made Michigan State the highest ranked team in the Big Ten conference, 3 seeds ahead of Purdue, Maryland, and Indiana.
After receiving the 2-seed in the Mid-West, the Spartans will face 15-seed Middle Tennessee in the first round. While Tom Izzo's squad will be a heavy favorite Friday afternoon, the Spartans will have their hands full with sophomore guard Giddy Potts. The good news: Michigan State is they see a player with amazing shooting ability every day in practice. The bad news: Giddy Potts shoots even better than Bryn Forbes.
If there's an individual match-up you don't want to miss in the round of 64 it might be Potts and Forbes. While most are familiar with Forbes' sharp shooting, as he set the Big Ten record for threes in a game 2 weeks ago against Rutgers, not as many have heard the name Giddy Potts. The 6'2'' guard tops Forbes' 48% from deep as he shoots over 50% from downtown. Potts averages 15 points per game for the 15-seeded Blue Raiders and adds 5.5 rebounds.
If Middle Tennessee is going to have any chance of pulling a huge upset, Potts will have to go absolutely crazy shooting the ball. While the Spartans will be keying on him, it's not anything Potts hasn't seen this season. Conference USA opponents were keying on the Alabama native the whole season and he still managed double figures in all but 3 conference games.
Tom Izzo will find many different ways to guard Potts, as he will most likely try placing the longer Valentine on him if he begins to catch fire early. Needless to say, just the threat of Potts' three point shooting ability opens up gaps in other areas of a defense.
Forbes and Potts will most likely guard each other to start the game. According to the rosters, the Michigan State guard has an inch height advantage on Potts, but weighs over 40 pounds less. Kermit Davis, the Blue Raiders coach, may want to keep his star guard from playing defense on Forbes too much. The senior guard moves a lot off the ball when Valentine handles and can tire defenders quickly.
At the end of the day, Middle Tennessee will likely look overmatched against the heavily favored Spartans. Even if the lead is double digits for a majority of the contest, watching two players with as good of strokes from deep as Forbes and Potts will be fun. The casual fan can only hope the two players end up in an individual back and forth battle and combine for at least 10 threes.