After a terrific battle for the Big Ten Tournament title, Michigan and Michigan State will now turn their attention to their ultimate goal, making a run at the national championship.
Here’s a breakdown of the NCAA Tournament draw for both the Spartans and Wolverines, with the happiness meter of the draw being on a scale of 1-10 (10 being happiest).
Region: West (No. 2 seed)
First round opponent: Montana
Draw happiness meter: 9
Breakdown: After a heartbreaking third loss to rival Michigan State on Sunday in the Big Ten championship game, the Wolverines have to be elated with their draw. Other than facing the unusual situation of playing the same first opponent as last year (the Wolverines routed Montana), Michigan has an opportunity to get back to the Final Four. Even though it was the worst of the No. 2 seeds, it was placed in a region with Gonzaga, not No. 1 overall seed Duke. Florida or Nevada aren’t opponents to fear in a second round game, and No. 3 seed Texas Tech is a beatable opponent in a potential regional semifinal matchup. Playing opponents not so familiar with their tendencies should be a boon for Michigan’s struggling offense.
Region: East (No. 2 seed)
First round opponent: Bradley
Draw happiness meter: 1
Breakdown: It didn’t take long for MSU fans to go from thrilled to livid after the third win of the season over Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final. The celebration was barely over when MSU found out its draw, which caused a lot of groans because MSU is in the same bracket as heavy title favorite Duke. MSU hoped for a No. 1 seed after beating Michigan, but at the very least hoped winning a share of the Big Ten regular season title and the conference tournament title would steer it away from Duke's region. That didn't happen. MSU head coach Tom Izzo is 1-11 against Duke in his career. The path to get to Duke is favorable, with an opponent MSU has already played this year, Louisville or Minnesota, likely waiting in the second round. LSU is the third seed in the region and could be a possible regional semifinal opponent. But that’s not what a lot of MSU fans are focused on. All they eye is Duke down the road and shake their heads. A Final Four berth is unlikely now for MSU, but after failing to get past the first weekend three years in a row, doing that would be a good way to get back on track in the tournament.