The Michigan State Spartans performed a complete turnaround this year after an incredibly disappointing 2010-11 season. After going from preseason #2 to barely on the bubble last year, the Spartans went from just on the outside of the top-25 preseason to Co-B1G champions, B1G Tournament champions and a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The last time they won the B1G tournament was 2000, the same year as the Spartans’ second and most recent National Title. This year’s run starts with the NEC-champion LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds. The game is Friday night at 9:20pm/8:20cst on TBS.
Who are they?
The Blackbirds are coming off their second straight NEC Tournament title, beating Robert Morris last Wednesday. They were also the regular season champions in each of the last two years and will be headed back to the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Blackbirds were a 15-seed and lost to 2nd seed North Carolina in 102-87 in the opening round. Before that, LIU had not been to the Dance since 1997 – they are still in search of their first tournament win, losing their first game in each of their 4 appearances. The Blackbirds finished with a 25-6 record, with just one game (a loss to Penn State) against a power conference team. Their schedule included just one game against a team in the NCAA field – an early season loss at Iona. They dominated the NEC conference schedule, losing just twice (both on the road) and ran through the conference tournament with no problems at all.