The Michigan State Spartans persevered through the Big Ten -- the toughest conference in America -- to earn a No. 3 seed in the Midwest region for the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Tom Izzo's team has been battle tested thanks to a brutal schedule including playing the Duke Blue Devils, who they may very well see in the Sweet 16 with Duke being the No. 2 seed in the region.
Over at Michigan State's SB Nation blog The Only Colors, Chris Vannini talks about the road ahead:
I don't know a ton about any of these teams yet, but, while the region is loaded, my early impression is that MSU's route to the Elite Eight isn't as impossible as some think. Also, the route to Atlanta would go through Auburn Hills and Indianapolis, so travel wouldn't be a worry.
But first, the Spartans must get past their second round opponent in Valparaiso. Michigan State may have their hands full with a team led by Australian forward Ryan Broekhoff who scores 16 points and grabs seven rebounds per game.
The only other Crusader that scores in double-digits is Kevin Van Wijk, a 6'8'', 240-pound senior who scores just over 12 per night.
Should the Spartans advance, Vannini says the region should provide some great basketball:
I don't think MSU's matchup with Duke would be all that bad, though Coach K has Izzo's number. I think Louisville would be a terrible matchup, but maybe Izzo could work his second-game-of-the-weekend magic, as he did in 2009 (in Indy) and couldn't last year against Louisville. In the Elite Eight, you're going to get a hard game, anyway. Don't sleep on No. 4 seed Saint Louis.