Michigan State basketball gets fresh slate with 26th straight NCAA Tournament

The fantastic streak of bids to the big dance continues.

Michigan State v Michigan
Michigan State v Michigan / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Michigan State basketball had to sweat out Selection Sunday and it was fortunate to hear its name called despite a roller-coaster season. In what proved to be an anxious weekend for the program and the fanbase, the Spartans were chosen as a 9-seed and they're set to face Mississippi State, an 8-seed, on Thursday for a 12:15 p.m. ET tip versus the SEC foe.

Mississippi State has been just as inconsistent as the Spartans this season although they do have a few impressive wins under their belt including two against Tennessee and another against Auburn (both are ranked in the top-10 nationally). It's worth mentioning that they beat both Northwestern and Rutgers late in 2023, therefore they have experience playing Big Ten opponents effectively. They don't shoot the ball particularly well yet they have a roster loaded with plenty of size and they commit to defending.

The Bulldogs have two scorers who average north of 15 points per game, diminutive freshman guard Josh Hubbard (17.1) and senior big man Tolu Smith (15.2). They have a do-it-all veteran forward Cameron Matthews who leads the team in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

The MSU coaching staff will certainly game plan to neutralize this trio.

MSU's draw is not terrible and their bracket in the West Region isn't overly daunting. If they can get past Mississippi State, they will go up against North Carolina who is coming off an upset loss to North Carolina State. That is a winnable game and if Tom Izzo can conjure up some of his March magic, the table is set for them to make the type of run he's known for this time of year.

MSU can ill afford to have its centers play poorly. The Spartans desperately need their upperclassmen (Malik Hall, AJ Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Tyson Walker) to provide their best performances of their basketball careers, and their bench must produce for them to advance.

Despite several agonizing losses and frustrating moments throughout the season, Michigan State was given the gift of new life and they possess a track record of success in the NCAA Tournament. They have shown flashes of promise and if this bunch can all click at once, they have an opportunity to hang more banners in the Breslin. All it takes is six games of terrific execution.