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3/23 NCAA Tournament Preview: Michigan State keeps dancing, faces Kansas State

Tom Izzo and the Spartans are a March Madness staple.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament East Regional Practice Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

They don’t call him Mr. March for nothing, folks.

Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans are the last Big Ten team standing following the first weekend of March Madness. The most accomplished coach currently in the league has a chance to lead an undersung squad to the Final Four.

And, why not? He’s far and away the most experienced coach left in the East and the Spartans have guard play just good enough to get there.

They’ll need to get through Jerome Tang and Kansas State first.

No. 7 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 6:30 p.m. (TBS)
  • KenPom: Kansas State by 1

Ah, yes. Kansas State being the only men’s basketball program from the state of Kansas to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Just like everyone expected.

Jerome Tang was a career assistant at Baylor for nearly two decades up until his hiring as the Wildcats’ head coach last offseason. He’s hit the ground running with an overtime win over rival Kansas in the regular season and knocking Kentucky out of the tournament in the second round.

The Wildcats are here largely because of their defense, No. 17 in the country per KenPom’s efficiency rankings. Not that the offense, No. 47 in efficiency, is anything to look over. They’re led in scoring by Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson with 17.5 points per game. He has the help of 5-8 guard Markquis Nowell, who scores 17.1 points per game and leads the team in assists per game with 7.8.

A hero to short kings everywhere.

Anyway, Michigan State is going to have their hands full but the Spartans in all honesty have the guard play and defensive experience to grind out a win here. Add in Izzo on the sideline and it looks like Mr. March will be at it again.

The Spartans are a balanced squad inside the top-35 in KenPom in both offensive and defensive efficiency. USC and Marquette both posed an interesting challenge, but each was no match for Michigan State.

I believe the same fate awaits Kansas State.

  • Pick: Michigan State