Cassius Winston scored 26 points and second-seeded Michigan State, thanks in part to a season-high, 25-of-26 showing from the line, held off Bradley 76-65 on Thursday in the opening round of the East Region.
Xavier Tillman had 16 points with 11 boards for the Spartans (29-6), who'll face Big Ten rival, 10th-seeded Minnesota, on Saturday in search of their first trip to the Sweet 16 in four years. Michigan State throttled the Gophers 79-55 in East Lansing back on Feb. 9.
Bradley (20-15) gave the Big Ten champions all they could handle, though.
It was a one-possession game until Matt McQuaid drilled a crucial 3 to put Michigan State ahead 61-55 with 3:31 left. Aaron Henry followed with a layup to cap a 9-0 run.
Darrell Brown hit a 3 for Bradley to make it 65-60. But the Braves were forced to put the Spartans at the line - where they almost couldn't miss.
Bradley surged to a 35-34 halftime lead by shooting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. The Spartans made some of their own luck early in the second half, reeling off 10 straight points in less than two minutes to seize control. Bradley answered with eight straight of its own, though, to retake the lead, 51-50.
Elijah Childs scored 19 points and Brown had 17 for the Braves, who went just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc in the second half.