The 2021 NCAA Tournament tips off in just 48 hours as almost all of the participating programs have descended upon Indianapolis to get the festivities underway.
Among the last four teams to slip into the field of 68 is Michigan State, allowing Tom Izzo to be back in the Big Dance for the 23rd straight time. The Spartans (15-12) got off to a slow start this season, but have been one of the hottest teams in college basketball over the last few weeks.
It's for that reason that ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg named Michigan State an obvious "sleeper" team headed into the NCAA Tournament.
"Think about the wins that Michigan State has down the stretch," Greenberg said Tuesday morning on ESPN's Get Up, via 247 Sports. "Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan — you're talking about two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed. Why? (Junior forward) Aaron Henry. He got it going in those games — 18 points a game, six rebounds, 45 (percent) from three. They defend better and they're running people off the three-point line, which is so important. Michigan State, look for them for the upset over BYU."
Greenberg makes a fine point considering Michigan State's obvious improvement after stumbling in the mid-season. Despite a 68-57 loss to Maryland last Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans have won five of their last eight, including upsets over Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan.
Another reason that Michigan State might have a deeper run in them is because of their head coach. Izzo has always excelled in March, having led the Spartans to eight Final Fours during his tenure. Given the unique circumstances of this year's tournament, Izzo seems like a safe bet to navigate the uncertainty well.
Before Michigan State can think about a deep run later this month, they'll have to get past UCLA in the First Four. The Spartans will take on the Bruins on Thursday night from Mackey Arena in West Lafayette. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:57 p.m. ET.