The Cinderella story in this year’s Final Four (feel free to look at the adorable picture of Shaq right about now) is Michigan State, but are they? Technically, yes. The Spartans came in as a 7 seed, but finished the season playing their best ball, and their preseason ranking (18th) indicates their talent. (Highly ranked preseason teams often re-emerge during March Madness.) Case in point: Last year’s Kentucky Wildcats, the preseason #1 but an 8 seed in the Big Dance that beat 1 seed Wichita State in the round of 32 and made it all the way to the Championship Game, just like Michigan State can do this year.
[Before I continue, let us take a moment to appreciate the second-best commercial of March Madness, in which AT&T dialing up more comedy. This year’s ads, starring “March Madness Legends” Shaq, Dr. J, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner (but I still hate him), does not meet the high standards of the 2014 March Madness commercial genius (“Fast or Slow” with adorable kids, and then Bill Russell, Larry Bird, and Kareem).]
So: Michigan State is NOT a Cinderella story. They have coach Tom Izzo, who knows what he’s doing come March. The 2000 NCAA champ has made it to the Big Dance 18 straight seasons, reached the Sweet Sixteen an astounding 13 times with Michigan State, including seven of the last eight years, and is now in the Final Four for the seventh time. Playing the 4 seed Louisville in the Elite Eight, Michigan State was still favored by 2.5 points.
While Michigan State is the 7 seed they are in no way, shape, or form an underdog.