But that doesn’t matter to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke
Like I said last week, the Michigan State Spartans can never be counted out.
And they proved that to be true when knocking off fourth-seeded Louisville 76-70 in overtime Sunday in a NCAA tournament East Regional final to secure a berth in the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The seventh-seeded Spartans (28-11), who were considered a bubble team in February, have won 12 of their past 15 games. They have added to the excitement of The Southsider Voice’s third annual Basketball Blitz, which matches advertisers with teams in the tourney.
Michigan State, paired with Merry Maids, will meet Duke (33-4, Weichert Realtors Tralee Properties) at 6:09 p.m. Saturday. That game will be followed by Kentucky (38-0, Ed Gregg’s Plumbing) battling Wisconsin (35-5, Lamping & Husing Heating & Cooling). The winners will square off Monday around 9:15 p.m. for the national title.
The selection committee can hang its hat high. With the exception of the Spartans, all of the group’s No. 1 seeds have advanced to Indianapolis.
Michigan State, which has won two national titles, sports the nation’s 14th-most efficient offense and was second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting. But the Spartans struggle at the free-throw line, ranking near the bottom nationally. They took Wisconsin to overtime in the championship game of the Big Ten tournament before losing.
The Spartans’ 1979 national title game victory over Indiana State, which featured Magic Johnson against Larry Bird, remains the highest-rated televised college basketball game.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils are no strangers to the Final Four, having won four championships. Many critics didn’t think coach K’s squad deserved a No. 1 because it didn’t win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title or the league tournament.
But the Dukies are on a roll and will be a handful for coach Steve Izzo and gang. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans 81-71 and Wisconsin 80-70 early in the season.
Wisconsin, which has the nation’s most efficient offense, will need a solid effort to knock off Kentucky, which barely squeaked past Notre Dame 68-65 in a thrilling Midwest Regional final Saturday night. The Wildcats defeated the Badgers 74-73 in last year’s Final Four semifinal but lost to Connecticut in the championship game.
Kentucky, an eight-time national champ, is hoping to rewrite history by becoming the first team to go undefeated since Bob Knight’s Hoosiers went 32-0 during the 1975-76 campaign.
The winner in The Voice’s contest will receive a half-page, full color ad valued at $675. The runner-up gets a quarter-page ad valued at $390. Third- and fourth-place winners will receive eighth-page ads valued at $210 each.
As for Kentucky rewriting history books ... those texts are fine the way they read now.