Crazy Facts About This Michigan State Team That May Blow Your Mind


It has been a while since a team like Michigan State has won a national title after being such big underdogs heading into the NCAA Tournament. Or has it? Not even 365 days ago, a team just like Michigan State won the title and proved all doubters wrong.

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Just how similar are the two teams? Well, it’s actually kind of scary how alike they are; let’s take a look at the striking resemblances to each other.

  • Both 2014 UConn and 2015 Michigan State came in as the No. 18 team in the nation in the preseason poll.

Although both teams were ranked in the preseason polls, it didn’t take long for them to lose at least three games before conference play and drop a bit.

  • As of right now, Michigan State and Connecticut have made the EXACT same number of threes. Last year’s UConn team made 287 and this year’s MSU team has made 287.

Michigan State has attempted just two more at this point, shooting 38.6 percent while the Huskies shot a creepily similar 38.7 percent from downtown. Last year, leading scorer and point guard Shabazz Napier drained 87 threes and MSU point guard and leading scorer Travis Trice has made 88.

Both possess a talented senior point guard who played their best basketball of the year during the tourney.

Mar 29, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Travis Trice (20) reacts after making a three pointer during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals in the finals of the east regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Those two players are Napier for Connecticut and Travis Trice for Michigan State. Napier averaged 21.7 points and 4.5 assists per game during the 2014 NCAA Tournament and Trice is averaging 19.7 points and 4.0 assists per contest during this year’s tourney.

Fun fact: Shabazz finished with 195 assists his senior year and right now, Trice has 192.

  • Three players on both teams averaged in double figures in points and two on both teams make a jump to the next level, seeing an end to their college careers.

For Connecticut, Napier, DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright all averaged over 10 points per game and for the Spartans, it’s Trice, Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine.

Daniels and Napier both ended up getting drafted the following summer while Dawson and Trice could very well be in the same boat.

  • Both faced the team they would eventually meet in the Final Four in non-conference play.

However, Connecticut didn’t face the Blue Devils in the Final Four, they faced the No. 1 seeded Florida Gators — a heavy favorite to reach the title game, just like Duke this year. Michigan State failed to beat the Blue Devils in the first matchup, but UConn defeated Florida in a close one.

  • Both started conference play with a loss.

For the Spartans, it was against the tough Maryland Terrapins, losing in overtime by just two points at home. For the Huskies, it was a road loss against Houston by just only points. Either way, conference play got off to a rocky start for both teams.

  • Both went 12-6 in conference play, finishing third in their respective conferences and finish the conference tournament as the runner-up with a double-digit loss in the title game.

Michigan State lost by 11 in overtime to the No. 1 seeded Wisconsin Badgers while the Huskies lost by 10 to No. 1 seeded Louisville.

Mar 15, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Shabazz Napier (13) reaches for a loose ball between Louisville Cardinals forwards Stephan Van Treese (44) and Montrezl Harrell (24) in final of the American Athletic Conference college basketball tournament at FedEx Forum. Louisville defeated Connecticut 71-61. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

  • Both earned the No. 7 seed in the East Region with a less than favorable matchup set up in the round of 32 with a tough No. 2 seed.

Michigan State was thought to be severely under-seeded as the Spartans had just run through the Big Ten Tournament to the title game, taking the top-seeded Badgers into overtime. It should have been a win had it not been for a blown out of bounds call by the referee crew. The Huskies faced No. 2 seed Villanova (29-4) in the third round while MSU faced No. 2 seed Virginia (30-3).

  • Both faced the same seeds to reach the Final Four and the margins of victory were similar in the round of 64, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

Michigan State faced No. 10, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 to reach the Final Four and UConn did the exact same. Both of their regions saw just one upset in the round of 64 as a double-digit seed made it to the round of 32.

In the round of 64, or second round, MSU won by seven points against Georgia while Connecticut won by eight against Saint Joseph’s. The Spartans prevailed by just four points against Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 while UConn squeaked by Iowa State by five. Finally, Michigan State defeated Louisville by six points to reach the Final Four and the Huskies won by the same margin against the 2014 version of the Spartans.

  • Both essentially played a home game in the Elite Eight — tip from good friend Loo — as Michigan State was well-represented in Syracuse, N.Y., owning about 70 percent of arena and same went for UConn at Madison Square Garden.

While you can’t call it a home game, the crowd was definitely in favor of Connecticut last year and Michigan State this year — by a wide margin. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino even said how heavy the support was from Spartan Nation, stating that there were about 10,000 to 12,000 MSU fans to Louisville’s 500. Connecticut fans owned Madison Square Garden when the Huskies defeated the Spartans in the Elite Eight last year.

  • Both faced the No. 1 seed from the South Region in the Final Four as a serious underdog.

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  • This one has already been explained. Connecticut faced a heavy favorite in Florida while the Spartans face an equally heavy favorite in Duke.

    • Last, but certainly not least crazy, the teams playing on the other side of the bracket to head to the title game were Kentucky and Wisconsin.

    The only difference is that Kentucky was just an eight-seed last year while Wisconsin was a two-seed and this year both of those teams are one-seeds. Pretty eerie similarity to round of the series of likenesses between last year’s improbable national champions and this year’s unpredictable Spartans.

    The final question is: can this Michigan State duplicate what Connecticut did in the Final Four last year? Time will tell.