NCAA tournament tipoff: Michigan State vs. Kansas

Michigan State has endured a challenging season.

March 09 2017: during the 2017 NCAA Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the TCU Horned Frogs at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Top stat: 53, as in Kansas' field-goal percentage compared to 43 percent for Michigan State. Frank Mason added in another 20 points of his own to help send the Jayhawks to the sweet 16 where they will play Purdue in a virtual home game in Kansas City.

Then he stood face to face with Bridges as they stared at each other in an image reminiscent of two heavyweights at a weigh-in. "It'll be a different feel to it so we're not too anxious about it", he said.

"I complain all the time about (teams) being soft, but I think historically we've had pretty tough teams (when) you compare it to everybody else", he said. Mykhailuik presented a huge mismatch on the wing for MSU constantly getting open for three-point shots and driving on smaller Spartan defenders.

Call it coincidence, but within the next three minutes, Kansas took a lead it never surrendered ... even if it did get whittled down to one before the Jayhawks pulled away in the second half. MSU shot 56 percent, out-rebounded the Hurricanes by 13, turned the ball over only five times in the final 31 minutes and got 57 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists and just two turnovers from its four freshmen.

Michigan State entered Sunday following a dominating win over Miami in the opening round, a victory that improved the school to 14-10 as a lower seed in the NCAA Tournament under Izzo - the most wins by a lower-seeded school in tournament history.

Jackson will be emblematic of a Kansas team that has won big on the court but dealt with multiple problems off of it. Well, until recently. The Wolverines have found their groove and much like the previously mentioned Jayhawks, Michigan is going to make teams score with them in order to have a chance. Jackson already put the emphatic punctuation on the win with 2:05 left, when he raced down the lane for a massive dunk as part of a closing 21-6 flurry.

#9 Michigan State vs #1 Kansas. I have none. I told you, the last 12 games, now 14 games, we played better basketball. "Maybe more than people think we should've, but those moments helped define us when [the] game [was] on line". Josh Jackson, who strongly considered going to Michigan State, had 17 points and seven rebounds in Friday's win.

Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send MI past second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday and into the Sweet 16.

It's a characteristic Self sees as separating this from many of his teams.

The Jayhawks (30-4) nursed a five-point lead, 40-35, at the end of a wild first half that featured 11 lead changes and six ties. "I do, if they get in foul trouble". The Jayhawks had a 100-point performance against No. 16 seed UC Davis Aggies in the first round and a 90-point outing against No. 9 Michigan State Spartans in the round of 32. And the big question everyone will be asking is: Will Miles Bridges return?

  • Joanne Flowers