The Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines are among the contenders to reach the Final Four of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Both teams are seeded second in their respective regions, and they have the talent to reach the semifinals in Minneapolis. U. of M. reached the championship game last season, losing to Villanova, while MSU lost to Syracuse in a second-round game at Little Caesars Arena. Head coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans rebounded by winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, and beating John Beilein’s Wolverines three times.
Reaching the semis won’t be easy for either team. Some of State’s best players are playing well despite injuries, including junior point guard Cassius Winston, the Big Ten player of the year. Michigan boasts one of the country’s best defenses, but lacks the offensive firepower and the depth of last year’s national runners-up.
Both teams start first round play on March 21 in Des Moines, Iowa. MSU faces Bradley, while U. of M. gets a rematch with Montana, the team they beat to open the 2018 tournament.
If the in-state rivals reach the Final Four, they would face each other for the fourth time in 2019.
Both schools will also compete in the NCAA women’s tournament. Michigan will play Kansas State in the first round on March 22. MSU faces Central Michigan on March 23.
WDET’s Pat Batcheller spoke with Detroit News sports reporter John Niyo about this year’s tournament. Click on the audio player to hear the conversation.