Michigan State (3) faces Bucknell (14) Friday night at Little Caesars Arena in their first game of the NCAA tournament.
The Spartans are the obvious favorites, but they know from past tournament experience that it's called March Madness for a reason. Bringing up Middle Tennessee around anyone related to Michigan State can still end a conversation, and that No. 16 seed beat No. 1 Michigan State and bounced them from the tournament a full two years ago.
Michigan State isn't taking any opponent from granted. They say they know nothing is guaranteed once the tournament starts.
That said, the Spartans sound confident in the matchup.
"We definitely gotta run them off the three-point line. We can't let them get open looks," said sophomore guard Cassius Winston. "Wear them down. If we keep pushing at them, keep sending our depth at them, they're going to wear down. They're not the deepest team..."
Forward Nick Ward said he thinks the Spartans' strength is their size.
"Our strength is our inside game, our depth and it's our size really. Their strength is shooting. We have to take away one of their strengths. We're going to make them drive to the basket and we'll see how well we finish," said Ward after Thursday's practice.
Bucknell does indeed like to shoot from long range, and they do it well. They average 81 points per game and they average around 34 per cent from behind the three point line.