What Michigan State Must Do to Extend NCAA Tournament Streak

What Michigan State Must Do to Extend NCAA Tournament Streak
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The three consistencies of life might as well be death, taxes and Tom Izzo leading the Michigan State Spartans into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

That’s because the Spartans’ legendary head coach has taken Michigan State to the Big Dance each year for a quarter-century, posting the second-longest March Madness streak in the nation behind the Kansas Jayhawks at 33. Fans and Michigan betting sites know consistency when they see it.

That streak isn’t guaranteed, though, and Michigan State is off to a slow start. The Spartans have sputtered their way to a 9-6 record out of the gate, with a 1-3 mark in Big Ten play, marked by Michigan State’s 14-point loss in Evanston to Northwestern on Sunday.

At the moment, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has the Spartans listed as a seventh seed in his latest nock bracket, though Izzo probably would be the first person to tell you that Michigan State still has lots to clean up on the court.

Luckily for Michigan State fans, Sparty has a shot at doing just that this week, with a road game against No. 10 Illinois in Champaign Thursday night, before hosting fellow 9-6 program Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.

At ESPN Bet Michigan, the Spartans are 4.5-point and +150 moneyline underdogs against Illinois (-175). The team at ESPN Analytics currently gives Izzo’s team a 24.7% shot at defeating Illinois.

With Michigan State finding itself tied for the bottom of the Big Ten standings at 1-3 headed into that contest with Illinois, it’s worth wondering what the Spartans need to do to extend their NCAA Tournament streak to 26 years.

BetMichigan.com – your home for Michigan online casinos – looked at where the Spartans’ schedule goes from here to come up with some hypothetical odds on such an outcome, ahead of the team’s road clash with the Illini.

Most Consecutive NCAA Bids

  1. Kansas: 33
  2. Michigan State: 25 
  3. Gonzaga: 24

Hypothetical MSU Tournament Odds

 

  • To Make Field Of 68: -300 (75%)
  • To Miss NCAA Tournament: +300 (25%)

Hypothetical MSU Seed Odds

  • 1-4 Seed: +300 (25%)
  • 5-6 Seed: +150 (40%) 
  • 7-9 Seed: +300 (25%)
  • Other: +900 (10%)
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Can Michigan State Extend NCAA Tournament Streak In 2024?

At the moment, Michigan State is ranked 19th on KenPom.com and 27th in the NCAA’s latest round of NET rankings, which bodes well for them to make the field in 2024.

While an upset win over No. 10 Illinois would help secure such an outcome, the goal right now for Izzo and his staff should be avoiding costly losses to Rutgers and Minnesota at home on Sunday and Jan. 18, respectively.

From there, the Spartans finish January with road games against Maryland (Jan. 21) and No. 15 Wisconsin (Jan. 26), before closing out the month at home against rival Michigan on Jan. 30.

Wins over the Scarlet Knights, Terrapins and Wolverines would get the Spartans to 4-5 in Big Ten play (assuming they lose to Illinois and Wisconsin), setting the stage for an early February slate of games that includes a road showdown with Minnesota (Feb. 6) and a rematch at the Breslin Center against Illinois on Feb. 10.

Michigan State really just needs to avoid committing the cardinal sin of losing unsightly games in conference play to make the field this year. That shouldn’t be too hard in a conference that has one team ranked outside the top-100 on KenPom.com at the moment (Penn State, at No. 114).  

For now, the best way for the Spartans to secure their future is to hold the line against a talented Illinois team in a hostile environment on Thursday night, scoring an upset that would go a long way towards bolting down a 26th straight tournament berth for Izzo and company in East Lansing.

BetMichigan.com will keep an eye on the Spartans all season with our Michigan State basketball betting guide.

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Author

Christopher Boan is a staff writer for BetMichigan.com. He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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