2013 NCAA Tourney 2nd Round: Michigan St. (25-8, 13-5) vs Valparaiso (26-7, 13-3)

It’s March Madness time, dudes and dudettes. And that means it’s time for Tom Izzo and his Michigan St. Spartans to begin their quest towards the school’s third national title in men’s basketball. The third-seeded Spartans will make their 16th straight tournament appearance while the 14th-seeded Crusaders are dancing for the first time since 2004. The Crusaders set a school record for wins and won the Horizon League Tournament. Sparty lost in the Big Ten Tournament to eventual champion Ohio St.

The Crusaders aren’t as talented as the Spartans, but they’re certainly more experienced. Valpo starts five seniors and everyone in their nine-man rotation is an upperclassmen. This probably won’t be very beneficial to the Indiana school, but if the game is close late, it could possibly be a deciding factor. Leading the way for Valpo is forward Ryan Broekhoff, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. Forward Kevin Van Wijk is second on the team in both categories.

A possible distraction for the Spartans could come from playing this game in The Palace at Auburn Hills, a suburb about a half an hour away from the city of Detroit. With only one senior, forward Derrick Nix, Izzo will have to ensure that his team plays with composure. Shooting guard Gary Harris’s shoulder appears to be a bit balky, but he should he ready to go at 11:15.

Although MSU has suffered from bouts of inconsistency, I don’t see them struggling with Valpo. I believe Valpo is capable of playing Sparty tough, and not much more. Go Green. Go White.

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