A perennial contender takes on a potential bracket buster when No. 3 Michigan State takes on No. 14 Valparaiso in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans highlight a Midwest bracket that features Duke and No. 1 overall seed Louisville.
Tom Izzo has Michigan State (25-8, 13-5 Big Ten) in national title contention again, as the coach looks to make his seventh Final Four. HIs team is led by point guard Keith Appling, whose play sets the tone for the Spartans. When he is getting in the lane and dumping off to Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, the Spartans are pretty unstoppable. But when capable guards force Appling into jump shots, the Spartans can get flat.
Valparaiso (26-7, 13-3 Horizon) won both the regular season and conference tournament titles en route to earning a No. 14 seed in the tournament and the right to play a storied college basketball franchise. The Crusaders beat Murray State in non-conference play and nearly upset Nebraska on Nov. 15. This is Valpo's eight trip to The Big Dance and they are 2-7 overall. They are led by senior forwards Kevin Van Wijk and Ryan Broekhoff, who combine for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Their inside presence is strong, and the Crusaders shoot 48.9% from the field, good for sixth in the nation.
To pull of the upset, Valpo will have to dominate the paint on both ends and bottle up Appling and freshman phenom Gary Harris Jr. Michigan State should have an answer for the inside presence of Valpo, as Nix and Payne can be intimidating inside.
The winner of this game will play in the Round of 32 on March 23.
Game time, TV: 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Location: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI