The Michigan State Spartans followed a Big Ten regular-season championship by winning the conference tournament title on Sunday. While the club was holding out hope for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State drew the No. 2 seed in the East Region and will take on No. 15 Bradley on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Michigan State (28-6) is in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd straight season, the third longest active streak behind Kansas (30) and Duke (24). Some believe the Spartans got a tough draw as the No. 6 overall seed being placed in the same region as Duke, the top overall seed.
It's an entirely different world for Bradley, the tournament champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. Since the MVC title was in the bag days before the Big Ten tournament tipped off, the Braves are definitely rested.
They're also more than ready to get back on the court. During the week off, the private university in Central Illinois made national headlines by barring a longtime reporter from the team with a claim he failed to "promote the Bradley brand."
Coach Brian Wardle, in his fourth season, has the Braves (20-14) in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 after winning the conference tournaments, beating last year's Cinderella, Loyola Chicago, along the way.
One area the Braves will need to have locked down in Iowa on Thursday is rebounding. A furious rally to beat Northern Iowa in the MVC title game was nearly undone by BU's inability to limit UNI's second-chance looks. More of the same against the Spartans is a sure ticket out of the NCAA Tournament.