Michigan State basketball lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but will the defeat knock them out of the NCAA Tournament?
Michigan State has made a dramatic push down the stretch to come back from the brink of bubble death to extend their NCAA Tournament streak to 23 consecutive appearances. That push hit a pothole in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament as the Spartans fell to Maryland 68-57, knocking them out and closing the season with a 15-12 record.
The performance was a sloppy one for the Spartans, who committed 18 turnovers and let the Terrapins get to the charity stripe far too often. This game was a reminder of why Michigan State was on the bubble to begin with, raising questions about whether or not this loss could damage their NCAA Tournament dreams.
Is Michigan State basketball in trouble now?
The short answer to that is probably not. The Spartans’ strong finishing kick hasn’t helped tom Izzo’s team much in the metrics, which ranked 67th in the NET entering the day, but their run has included wins over Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State.
Those three teams could all end up on the top two seed lines at the NCAA Tournament and all three were ranked inside the top five when they played Michigan State, giving them a nice bullet point to lead their resume with.
The other benefit for the Spartans is that the bubble is weak so finding enough teams with good enough resumes to land in the field ahead of Michigan State is a big challenge. Syracuse, whose bubble candidacy has picked up steam of late, is just 1-7 in Quadrant 1 games and has wins over North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech holding up its resume while Xavier has good metrics but fell off the bubble with a boatload of losses down the stretch.
Barring a huge run of bid thieves in leagues like the Mountain West and AAC the Spartans should be safe on Selection Sunday. Losing to Maryland could knock Michigan State into the First Four, which is a perfectly fine place for a team with the Spartans’ quality wins but is just 15-12 overall, which would be the worst record for a team to ever receive an at-large bid.
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