Team: Michigan State
Conference: Big Ten
Coach: Tom Izzo
Record: 29-5, 13-5 in conference play
KenPom Rank: 3
Good wins: Michigan State knocked off (No. 4 at the time) Kansas 79-73 back in November. They also have a good win against a tough Maryland squad on their resume. The Spartys most impressive win isn't an individual game; it's the fact that they've won their last nine games.
Impact players: Senior Denzel Valentine is the force behind the Spartan's success. The Big Ten player of the year leads the Spartans in scoring with 19.4 points per game and is second on the team in rebounding, at 7.6 per game. He also ranks fourth in Division I in assists, with 7.6 per game. The Spartans have arguably the best player in the country with Valentine.
Matt Costello adds excellent rebounding for the Spartans, who can dominate the boards. And they have the best shooter in senior Bryn Forbes. Forbes worked on increasing his strength and defensive skills this past offseason and it's certainly evident as he is thriving. Tom Izzo called Forbes his "MVP of the summer."
How did they get in? Michigan State defeated Purdue 66-62 to win the Big Ten championship, getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Valentine was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after flirting with triple-doubles on three consecutive days. The Spartans got the 2-seed and will open up the tournament facing Middle Tennessee.
How far can this team go in the NCAA Tournament? The Spartys are a contender to reach the Final Four. As long as this team tightens up its second half offense, they'll go really far. This squad is deep, they're tough, experienced and ready to bring Coach Izzo his first national title since 2000.
Last time in the NCAA Tournament? Last season (2015). Lost to the eventual champions Duke in the Final Four, 81-61.