March Madness is set to tip off this week, and both Michigan and Michigan State are three seeds. One was the regular season champion, the other was the tournament champion of the Big Ten.

So who's is built for the longer tournament run?

The NCAA tournament is a tough road to hoe in any year, but this year, it's wide open with any of 10 to 12 teams who have a legitimate shot at winning it, including our state's representatives, Michigan and Michigan State.

So who has the better shot at the crown, Michigan State's Spartans or Michigan's surprising Wolverines?

Let's break it down.


Coaching is a huge part of any tourney run, and until now Tom Izzo of MSU would be my pick at tourney time. Izzo's teams seem to peak every March, and some of Izzo's lesser talented teams have made surprising Final Four runs.

But John Beilein has done wonders with the past two Michigan teams. Last year, he got an unheralded group of Wolverines to the Sweet 16, and this year they are red hot going into the NCAA fray.



Michigan's Muhammed Ali Abdur Rahkman has been a steady influence all season, and Duncan Robinson earned Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year honors for his play off the bench.

While Tum Tum Nairns and Gavin Schilling have been calming influences for the very young Spartans, Nairns lost his starting spot and has disappeared at times in big games.



Youth means talent, but it also means unpredictability, as Izzo has found out with his talented trio of Jaren Jackson, Nick Ward and Xavier Tillman. As erratic as they have been, they are immensely skilled, and have contributed some big points for Sparty.

Michigan, meanwhile, has suddenly started getting some production out of Isiah Livers off the bench and Jordan Poole has been contributing consistently at the guard spot. However, they don't have the oomph level that Sparty's frosh have.

EDGE: Michigan State


Michigan State's Miles Bridges returned so he could go on a long run in the tournament. He seems laser focused and ready to go. If he can keep his poise, he can put this team on his back and carry it a long way.

Michigan plays more of a team game, but Mo Wagner has to be involved or the Wolverines sputter. Wagner is a lovable goof whose personality defines his team, but his disappearance in the first half of the Big Ten tournament game with the Spartans was disconcerting.

EDGE: Michigan State


Michigan has had several players jump up at critical times to pull the team out of a funk. Big center Jon Teske was a huge factor in M's dismantling of Purdue in the Big Ten title game. Zavier Simpson's defense has been outstanding and Charles Matthews has evolved into a consistent threat.

This is where Izzo shines. He gets tough miles out of a lot of unsung players, and this year's been no exception. Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid have all jumped in at key times to propel the Spartans.

VERY SLIGHT EDGE: Michigan State


This is key in the tournament where games are often decided by who can connect from the charity stripe down the stretch.

Michigan has been sketchy all year from the line, currently ranking 330th out of 351 teams with a sad 65.7%. The only good news here is they have been trending up in the last few games. But there several players who are targets for opposing teams to put on the line when the game is on the line.

State, meanwhile, ranks just outside of the top 50 at 53rd nationally, clanging in 75.1% of their free shots.

EDGE: Michigan State

The tournament vet Izzo and his charges have a slight edge over Michigan, but the Wolverines owned the Spartans in two head to head games this season. But it's hard to beat a team three times, it's even harder for me to ever underestimate Izzo.

In case you're wondering, if the two teams both get on a roll, they will square off again in the semi-finals March 31 in San Antonio.






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