| No. 9 Michigan State (20-14, 10-8 Big Ten) vs. No. 1 Kansas (29-4, 16-2 Big 12)
|Date||Sunday, March 19, 2017|
|Time||5:15 p.m. ET|
|Location||Tulsa, Oklahoma | BOK Center|
|Television||CBS - Kevin Harlan (Play by Play), Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner (Analysts) and Dana Jacobson (Reporter)|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman and Matt Steigenga)|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Kansas|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Kansas|
|Social Media||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook | Instagram|
The Opening Tip
Michigan State faces Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans and
Jayhawks are meeting for the third straight season and the fourth time in the last five years. It
is the first NCAA Tournament meeting between MSU and KU since the 2009 Sweet 16, when
the Spartans claimed a 67-62 victory.
The Starting Five
1. MSU In The Round Of 32
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Michigan State has advanced to the round of 32 19 previous times. MSU has a 15-4 record in round of 32 games since 1985, including 13-1 under Tom Izzo.
2. Quick Turnaround Success
Michigan State's deep NCAA Tournament runs can be attributed to its success with quick turnarounds. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are a remarkable 21-4 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend, including 7-3 as the lower seeded team.
3. Spartan Youth
Michigan State features one of the nation's youngest rosters. According to KenPom.com, MSU ranks 321st in the nation in experience with an average of 1.14 years. Four of MSU's top five scorers, and all four of its healthy top scorers (not including Eron Harris) are freshmen. MSU entered the NCAA Tournament with six healthy players who had previous tournament experience, combining for 179 minutes, 18 points, 16 rebounds and 19 assists. In MSU's first round victory vs. Miami, the four freshmen totaled 57 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists in 107 minutes.
4. Improved Rebounding Effort
Michigan State has out-rebounded its last 11 opponents, including three by a margin of more than 10 rebounds, with a rebounding margin of + 7.2. In the first 23 games of the season, MSU owned a +2.3 rebounding margin, out-rebounding just 11 opponents.
5. Bridges Leads The Attack
After missing all seven games in December with a left ankle injury, Miles Bridges has played in the last 19 games, averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. He's been even better over the last 17 games, averaging 18.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, including five double-doubles, scoring at least 13 points in each of the last 17 contests. He's earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times since his return (and five times total on the season). He earned Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week Honors from the USBWA and CBS Sports on Jan. 31. Overall, he ranks seventh in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg), fifth in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and tied for fifth in blocked shots (1.6). He is the first freshman to lead MSU in scoring since Shawn Respert did it as a redshirt freshman in 1991-92. Bridges and UCLA's TJ Leaf are the only freshmen in the nation to average 16 points and eight rebounds (Source: Sports Reference).
NCAA Tournament First Round Notes
MSU 78 - Miami 58
* Michigan State improved to 24-7 in its first game of the tournament. Since the field expanded in 1985, the Spartans are 20-7 in the round of 64, including 15-5 under Tom Izzo.
* Tom Izzo earned his 14th win in the NCAA Tournament as the lower-seeded team, the most all-time in NCAA Tournament history.
* Michigan State won its 20th game of the season. Of the 25 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 22 of them, 17 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
* Michigan State's four freshmen combined for 57 points, the most in an NCAA Tournament game in school history. Nick Ward led all scorers with 19 points and added seven rebounds, while Miles Bridges scored 18 points and grabbed nine boards.
* Miami started the game on a 10-0 run, with eight points off three MSU turnovers. The Spartans had seven first-half turnovers, but none over the final 11:14 of the half and just five total for the remainder of the game.
* Miami took its biggest lead of the first half at 17-5. MSU closed the half on a 33-10 run to take an 11-point lead into the break. MSU is now 18-2 when leading at the half this season.
* The Spartans erased a 12-point deficit, marking the second largest comeback of the season for MSU, with the only bigger comeback taking place at Minnesota (12/27), where the Spartans trailed by 15 in the first half.
* MSU made nine of its final 11 field goals of the first half and 6-of-8 to start second half, and shot 64% (16-25) from the floor in the second half.
MSU vs. Kansas Notes
Overall, Kansas is making its 46th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Jayhawks have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 28-straight seasons, which is the longest streak in NCAA Tournament history.
MSU leads the all-time series against Kansas, 7-5, including a 1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans won the last NCAA Tournament meeting, defeating the Jayhawks in 2009 in the Regional Semifinal in Indianapolis, 67-62. The teams have met three times in the last four seasons, including in the 2015 Champions Classic in Chicago with MSU edging out KU, 79-73.
Bill Self (Oklahoma State, '85) is 621-192 in his 24th season as a collegiate head coach, including 414-87 in his 14th season at Kansas. Self has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament, including Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. Overall, Self has taken Kansas to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, including advancing to two Final Fours and capturing the 2008 National Championship.
The Last Meeting
No. 13 Michigan State defeated No. 4 Kansas, 79-73, on Nov. 17, 2015, in the Champions Classic in Chicago. Kansas led by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Spartans, however, fought back and trailed by just six points at the half, 41-35. Midway through the second half, KU held a comfortable 61-50 lead with just 9:42 remaining. Michigan State used a 12-1 run to tie the contest at 62. Following a KU basket, Denzel Valentine hit a 3-pointer to give MSU its first lead since the game's early moments. The Jayhawks hit a pair of free throws, but Matt McQuaid connected on a 3-pointer to take a 68-66 lead. The teams exchanged baskets and then KU hit a 3-pointer to take a 71-70 lead with 1:52 left. Valentine reclaimed the lead for MSU with 1:29 left, and following a defensive stop, another McQuaid 3-pointer gave MSU a 75-71 lead. The Spartans secured victory as both Valentine and Deyonta Davis hit both ends of a 1-and-1 in the final minute. Valentine (29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists) joined Magic Johnson as the only players to ever record a triple-double against Kansas. Perry Ellis led KU with 21 points.
The Last Meeting In The NCAA Tournament
No. 2 seed Michigan State defeated No. 3 seed Kansas, 67-62, in the 2009 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Indianapolis (March 27). The Jayhawks led by 13 points in the first half and seven at the half. Trailing 60-55 with 3:22 left, Michigan State closed the game on a 12-2 run, as Kalin Lucas scored MSU's final seven points in the last 49 seconds, including five straight free throws. Michigan State shot 16-of-17 from the foul line, and grabbed the rebound on its lone miss from the charity stripe; its 94.1 percentage was the third best in an MSU NCAA Tournament game. In addition to his team-high 20 points, Goran Suton tied an NCAA Tournament school record with five steals, as Michigan State tied the school tournament mark with 13 thefts. Lucas finished with 18 points and seven assists. Sherron Collins scored 20 points and Cole Aldrich had 17 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Jayhawks.
MSU NCAA Tournament Notes
MSU's NCAA Streak
Michigan State is making its 20th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and third-longest current streak in the nation. Only Kansas (28) and Duke (22) have longer current streaks. In fact, it is the fourth-longest streak of all-time, and the longest in Big Ten history. North Carolina appeared in 27-consecutive NCAA Tournaments between 1975-2001.
MSU In The NCAA Tournament
Michigan State is making its 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 64-29 (.688). MSU has made nine trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
Izzo's NCAA Streak
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is making his 20th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It's the second-longest active streak in the nation, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski, who is making his 22nd straight trip this season. The 20-year streak is the longest in Big Ten history by a head coach and tied for the third longest in NCAA history. Only Dean Smith (North Carolina, 23-1975-97) and Krzyzewski (22) have longer streaks, while Izzo is tied with Roy Williams (Kansas/North Carolina, 20-1990-2009). Izzo's 20 tournament appearances rank him tied with Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) and John Thompson (Georgetown) for 12th-most all-time.
Michigan State ranks seventh among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU's .688 winning percentage (64-29) trails only Duke (.755, 108-35), Florida (.727, 40-15), UCLA (.724, 100-38), North Carolina (.724, 118-45), Kentucky (.713, 122-49) and Kansas (.697, 101-44).
NCAA Tournament Victories
Michigan State ranks eighth overall and second among Big Ten schools with 64 NCAA Tournament victories. Only Kentucky (122), North Carolina (118), Duke (108), Kansas (101), UCLA (100), Louisville (76) and Indiana (66) have more tournament wins. Coach Tom Izzo has recorded 47 of MSU's 64 wins.
At His Best When It Counts
Tom Izzo ranks fifth among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .723 (47-18). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .771 (91-27), followed by Louisville's Rick Pitino (.750, 54-18), North Carolina's Roy Williams (.747, 71-24) and Kentucky's John Calipari (.741, 40-14). Of those five, Izzo and Krzyzewski are the only coaches to appear in the last 20 NCAA Tournaments. In NCAA Tournament wins, Izzo (47) is tied with John Wooden (UCLA) for seventh all-time (fifth among active coaches), trailing just Krzyzewski (91), Williams (71), North Carolina's Dean Smith (65), Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (54), Pitino (54), UConn's Jim Calhoun (49).
Izzo With The Lower Seeded Spartans
Tom Izzo is 14-10 in the NCAA Tournament when Michigan State is the lower-seeded team. The 14 wins are the most all-time in NCAA Tournament history.
Izzo In The Final Four
Tom Izzo ranks tied for fifth all-time and tied for third among active coaches with seven Final Four appearances. Currently tied with Louisville's Rick Pitino, Izzo trails just Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (12), UCLA's John Wooden (12), North Carolina's Dean Smith (11), and North Carolina's Roy Williams (8). Since Izzo's first season in 1995-96, his seven Final Four trips are the most in the nation, ranking just ahead of Williams (6) and Kentucky's John Calipari (6).
Two Titles Not Too Shabby
Michigan State is one of just 15 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Florida, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, San Francisco and Villanova join MSU with two titles. Only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Duke (5), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Connecticut (4), Kansas (3) and Louisville (3) have won more titles.
Nation's Best Seven Final Fours in 18 Years
Michigan State advanced to the 2015 Final Four, marking the seventh trip to the Final Four under Tom Izzo. The seven trips since 1999 are the most in the nation during that period.
Izzo In Tulsa
Tom Izzo arrived at Michigan State prior to the 1983-84 season and has been on the Spartan sideline for every season since then. He did, however, have a seven-week stint at the University of Tulsa in May and June 1986. He left a restricted-earnings position at MSU to take a job as the recruiting coordinator at Tulsa, but when Spartan assistant Mike Deane left to become head coach at Siena College, he returned to MSU.
Spartan Basketball Notes
One Of The Nation's Best Freshmen
Miles Bridges was named to the Sporting News' Freshman All-America team. He also captured Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors from both the media and coaches, becoming the second Spartan to win the award since it was first presented in 1986, joining Gary Harris (2013). Bridges led all conference freshmen in both scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) in Big Ten contests. He earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors a conference-best five times this season. Bridges also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten Second Team, joining Harris and Shawn Respert (1992) as the only Spartan freshmen to earn all-conference honors since Magic Johnson in 1978. He also earned a spot on the USBWA All-District V team.
Better At The Foul Line
Through the first 15 games of the season, Michigan State ranked 337th in the nation in free-throw percentage at .612. Since then, the Spartans have made a dramatic improvement. Over the last 19 contests, MSU is shooting .722 at the charity stripe (234-324).
MSU In March
Michigan State is 95-39 (.709) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 102-46 (.689) in March. Over the last seven-plus years (2009-present), MSU is 49-19 (.721) in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
Cleaning Up On The Defensive Glass
While Michigan State's rebounding is not as strong as it usually is, the Spartans still rank fifth in the Big Ten with a +3.9 rebounding margin. Where the Spartans are strong, however, is on the defensive backboard, as MSU grabs 72.7 percent of its opponents' misses, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. In conference games, Michigan State was even better, ranking second at 73.3 percent.
Too Many Turnovers
After averaging fewer than 12 turnovers in each of the last three seasons, this year's Spartan squad is averaging 14.1 per contest. MSU is 17-8 when committing 15 or fewer turnovers and 3-6 when committing more. In Big Ten play, MSU averaged 14.3 turnovers (13.3 in victory, 14.8 in defeat). MSU is 8-1 when having fewer turnovers than its opponent, and 11-1 when it has an advantage in points off turnovers.
Spartans On Target
Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.471) and fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.374). In conference games, the Spartans shot .470 from the field and .387 from 3-point range to rank second in the Big Ten in both categories.
With a win over Miami, MSU recorded its 17th 20-win season in the last 20 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 25 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 22 of them, 17 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Eight healthy Spartans average more than 18 minutes per game, while 10 average more than seven minutes per game (Does not include Eron Harris who is out for the year with a knee injury). Seven different players have led Michigan State in scoring in a single game. The depth has helped MSU's reserves outscore the opponent's bench in 27 of 34 contests, as MSU gets 27.3 points per game off the bench. Michigan State has used nine different starting lineups this season. According to KenPom.com, MSU leads the nation with non-starters playing 45.4 percent of the team's minutes.
The least heralded member of Michigan State's freshman class, Nick Ward is proving to be an impact player. He ranks second on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) and second in rebounding (6.6), while ranking third in the conference in field-goal percentage overall (.593) and third in conference games (.572). Ward has scored 20 or more points in six games, as MSU is 5-1 in those contests. He's lost 30-plus pounds since arriving on MSU's campus in June. His per 40-minute averages of 28.0 points and 13.2 rebounds lead the Spartans among members of the core playing group. He's scored six or more points in every game this season and has posted double-figure points in 24 of the last 28 games, averaging 14.7 ppg over that same span. In the seven games that Miles Bridges missed, Ward averaged 17.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. He's a four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree, earning the accolade on Dec. 5, Dec. 26, Jan. 2 and Feb. 27, while also earning Player of the Week honors on Feb. 27, becoming the only conference freshman to accomplish that feat this season. According to KenPom.com, Ward leads the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (8.9). Ward's scoring average (13.9) is the fourth-best ever for a Spartan freshman, while his 6.6 rebounding average is fifth best.
Michigan State has held opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field in each of the last five seasons, including finishing second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense in 2012 (.379) and 2016 (.382). The strong defensive effort has carried over to 2016-17, as 16 opponents have been held under 40 percent, as MSU boasts a field-goal percentage defense of .406, including holding Big Ten opponents to a .425 field-goal percentage. In Big Ten victories, the Spartans held opponents to .378, compared to .486 in defeat. MSU has held its opponent under 50 percent shooting in 32 of 34 games this season, failing to do so at Michigan and at Purdue.
Winston Lends A Hand
Freshman point guard Cassius Winston ranks second in the Big Ten with 5.1 assists per contest, and tied for fifth with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. According to KenPom.com, Winston ranks second in the nation in Assist Rate (assists divided by the field goals made by the player's teammates while he is on the court) (46.4). With 174 assists on the season, he already ranks second all-time among Spartan freshmen, trailing just Earvin "Magic" Johnson (222). The 2016 Michigan Mr. Basketball winner is fifth on the team in scoring (6.7 ppg) and has scored in double figures in four of the last 13 games, after doing it just three times in his first 21 games.
Eron Harris suffered a significant right knee injury against Purdue (Feb. 18) that will require surgery. He became the third Spartan senior to suffer a season-ending knee injury this season. Ben Carter (left knee) and Gavin Schilling (right knee) sustained their injuries prior to the first game of the season. Those three seniors have played in 311 combined games and scored a combined 2,173 points during their collegiate careers.
MSU's Freshman Class
Michigan State's freshman class of Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Cassius Winston is the most productive freshman class of the Tom Izzo era, as the quartet averages a combined 44.1 points, 19.1 rebounds and 92.8 minutes, with each one starting at least five contests. Over the last seven games, the quartet is averaging a combined 51.7 points, 22.5 rebounds and 98.8 minutes. Against Iowa, they each scored in double figures, marking the first time four Spartan freshmen scored in double figures in the same game under Tom Izzo. Against Nebraska, the quartet combined for a season-high 64 points, as Bridges (20 points) and Ward (20 points) became the first freshman duo to score 20 or more points at MSU since Jay Vincent and Magic Johnson did it on Jan. 5, 1978 against Minnesota. Bridges and Langford were McDonald's All-Americans, Winston joined Bridges as Jordan Brand All-Americans and all four players were ranked in the Top 40 in the nation. The 2001-02 Spartan freshmen of Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert and Aaron Alexander combined to average 77.4 minutes and 26.5 points, both of which previously ranked first in the Izzo era.
Bridges Makes An Immediate Impact
Miles Bridges is having one of the most productive freshman seasons in Michigan State history. Bridges' scoring average of 16.7 points per game trails only Magic Johnson's 17.0 ppg in 1977-78 as the best ever for a Spartan freshman. Only Greg Kelser (9.6 rpg, 1975-76) posted a better rebounding average than Bridges' current 8.3 average.
Freshman Block Party
Despite standing just 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 respectively, freshmen Nick Ward and Miles Bridges are among the best shot blockers in the Big Ten as they are tied for fifth in the conference with 1.6 blocks per contest. Ward ranks third in the Big Ten in total blocks (53), good for the second-best total by a freshman behind only Deyonta Davis' total of 64 established last season. Despite missing seven games, Bridges ranks third all-time among Spartan freshman with 43 rejections. Against Northeastern, Ward blocked six shots, tying the Spartan freshman single-game record and matching the second most ever by a Spartan in a single game.
Big Ten Freshmen Of The Week
Michigan State captured the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor nine times in the 17 weeks it was presented. Miles Bridges (Nov. 14, Nov. 28, Jan. 16, Jan. 30, Feb. 20) led the conference with five weekly honors. Nick Ward (Dec. 5, Dec. 26, Jan. 2, Feb. 27) was honored four times, while also earning Player of the Week honors on Feb. 27. Bridges also was honored as the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week by the USBWA and CBS Sports on Jan. 30.
Izzo Second In Wins At A Big Ten School
With 544 career wins, Tom Izzo has passed Gene Keady (512 wins) for second-most victories at a Big Ten school, trailing only Bob Knight (661 wins). Izzo is also third all-time with 256 Big Ten wins, trailing just Knight (353 wins) and Keady (265 wins).
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 19 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 213 games against ranked opponents. That total ranks first among teams that have appeared in a Final Four since then. The Spartans are followed by North Carolina (203), Texas (193), Duke (193), Kentucky (182), Illinois (180) and Michigan (179).
Spartans Share The Ball
Unselfishness is a trademark of all Tom Izzo teams. That has been especially true over the last three seasons as MSU has established a school record for assists in each of the last three years. Last season, MSU tallied a school record 719 assists, good for the 22nd-best total in NCAA history. MSU's nation's-best assist average of 20.5 was the 23rd-best average in NCAA history. The Spartans recorded an assist on a nation's-best 71.3 percent of their field goals. This year, the Spartans are averaging 17.0 assists in 2016-17, ranking 13th in the nation, recording an assist on 65.7 percent of their field goals, which is the second-best mark in the nation.
A Senior Steps Up
Senior Alvin Ellis III has played the best basketball of his career as a senior in conference play. In Big Ten play, Ellis averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, ranking third on the team in scoring and fourth in rebounding. The Spartans were 4-2 in Big Ten games this season in which he scores in double figures. He scored a career-best 20 points, including two game-winning free throws, in a one-point overtime victory at Minnesota. He followed with a team-best 16 points at Northwestern, adding a career-best eight rebounds. It marked the first time in his career that Ellis has led MSU in scoring, and the first time in his career that he's scored in double figures in back-to-back contests. Ellis led the team in scoring in a win over Ohio State, as he hit a career-best six 3-pointers, five of which came in the first half.
Nairn's Homecoming Provides A Spark
Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, while ranking tied for ninth in the conference in assists (3.7). The junior point guard had a very productive homecoming during MSU's play in the Battle 4 Atlantis. A native of Nassau, Nairn had arguably his best three-game stretch as a Spartan, matching or setting a career high in each game. He tied a career high in points with 13 points vs. St. John's, and set new career highs in rebounding (6) vs. Baylor and assists (12) vs. Wichita State. He also hit 4-of-6 3-pointers, after entering the tournament with seven threes in his first 71 career games. He matched his career high with 13 points in a comeback win at Minnesota, including 11 in the second half and overtime, while also scoring 13 points vs. Penn State.
It's All About Boardwork
According to KenPom.com, Michigan State ranks 291st in the nation in average height. As a result, rebounding has not been the staple it normally is for Michigan State. MSU has a +3.9 rebound margin, out-rebounding the opponent in 22 contests. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 586 of 763 opponents (.768), posting a 461-125 (.787) mark in those games. The Spartans have led the nation in rebounding in five of the last 17 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2016), ranking in the Top 10 10 times and the Top 25 on 13 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in conference games in 13 of the last 20 years and in 14 of 22 seasons under Izzo.
From Beyond the Arc
Michigan State is shooting .374 from behind the arc this year, ranking fourth in the Big Ten, as Miles Bridges (.391, 54-138), Eron Harris (.387, 43-111), Alvin Ellis III (.373, 41-110) and Matt McQuaid (.345, 39-113) lead the team in made 3-pointers. Joshua Langford (.417, 10th) ranks among the Big Ten leaders in 3-point field-goal percentage. In Big Ten play, the Spartans shot .387 from 3-point range, ranking second in the conference.
Hall of Famer Tom Izzo
Now in his 22nd season at Michigan State, Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo has built the Spartans into one of the elite programs in the nation. MSU is the only school in the country to win 27 or more games in each of the last five seasons. The Spartans' 20 straight NCAA Tournaments are a Big Ten record, the third-longest active streak in the nation and the fourth-longest active streak of all time. He's been able to accomplish this while playing more ranked teams than anyone else since 1998. Michigan State has appeared in a nation's best seven Final Fours in the last 18 seasons. Izzo's seven Final Four trips are tied for fifth most in NCAA history. Izzo was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Sept. 9.
The Nation's Toughest November
MSU's game at Duke (11/29) marked the final game in what was arguably the toughest opening month in college basketball history, certainly Spartan history. With games against No. 2 Kentucky, No. 10 Arizona and No. 20 Baylor (rankings at date of game), No. 5 Duke was the fourth ranked opponent MSU played in November alone. The Spartans had never faced three Top 10 opponents in November until this season, and had never played four Top 20 non-conference opponents in a single month during the regular season. Not only did the Spartans play a diabolical slate of opponents, they faced a brutal travel schedule to open the season. Beginning with a flight to Hawaii on November 8 and ending with the return flight from Duke on Nov. 29, the Spartans traveled more than 13,600 miles in 22 days, including additional trips to New York City and the Bahamas. Six opponents from November earned a bid in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including No. 2 seed Arizona, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, No. 10 Wichita State and No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast.