No. 2 Midwest seed Louisville draws familiar foe in first round

No. 2 Midwest seed Louisville draws familiar foe in first round

No. 2 Midwest seed Louisville draws familiar foe in first round

And here's hedging that bet to say you never know.

It's more slang than any sort of grand declaration, but with the Spartans relying heavily this season on freshmen with very little experience to fall back on, it's been an accurate description. Only Kansas, with 28 straight appearances, North Carolina (27) and Duke (22) have enjoyed longer strings of tournament bids, and only Kansas (28) and Duke (22) have longer active streaks. "They have a great coach and some great players". What's better than senior guards in the NCAA Tournament, right? However, it's something the Spartans (19-14) haven't done well all season.

While the Spartans finished the season unranked for the first time six years, they've been tested with the 10th-toughest schedule that included non-conference games against Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor, Duke and Wichita State. Michigan State actually outhit the Tigers, 9-8, but they left three times as many runners on base.

Well, you get the drift. Those defensive numbers should light up Derrick Walton's eyes, especially with how effectively the Wolverines attacked in transition during their time at the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State has guys like Miles Bridges and Nick Ward who can take over games and Josh Langford and Cassius Winston who are just waiting to get hot. There wasn't another game the next day.

Trouble is, nothing beyond No. 1 seeds prevailing over No. 16 seeds (they are 128-0) can be assumed in the NCAA Tournament - and Kansas figures to be severely tested in its presumed second-round game after it faces the victor of the contest between North Carolina Central and Cal-Davis. We would continue to fight. So that second game is far from a cakewalk for the Cardinals, no matter who wins that one. "Until late, you didn't hear much about (Michigan) in terms of NCAA picture, and we were in the same boat", Underwood said.

And that's the difference for this group. A deep run, which has been one of coach Tom Izzo's trademarks - his MSU tenure includes a national championship in 2000 and seven overall trips to the Final Four - appears to be a longshot.

Rhode Island is only here because they won the A10 Conference Tournament. "But everything being said, I'm happy as 10 men with where we're going and who we're playing". The Bobcats, chasing their first NCAA berth since 1997, lost to Troy 59-53 in the Sun Belt Tournament final Sunday in New Orleans.

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On Friday afternoon in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Harper will face Pitino and his Cardinals for the first time as a head coach. Or they could win and simply not have the firepower to get past potential opponent Kansas on Sunday.

Nevertheless, said Izzo, "I think they're ready to try to make a run, and that's the time of year it is". "There are a lot of teams that are going to beat a lot of teams because of just personnel, not necessarily who's the better team".

"They really weren't on our radar, but we are excited about the challenge", Jacksonville State's Greg Tucker said.

And if that doesn't work, Ellis will jump in. "We can't take any game for granted".

Iowa State scored 274 points in three games against the Pokes, all wins, and that bodes well for a Wolverine offense that is clicking on every level. "If that doesn't pump them up enough, I don't know what can".

If all goes according to plan, UofL could then face No. 7 MI in a rematch of the '13 title game in Atlanta.

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