Michigan St.-Miami Preview (Mar 17, 2017)

Michigan St.-Miami Preview (Mar 17, 2017)

The Miami-Michigan State first-round matchup epitomizes a No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed line in the NCAA Tournament.

Like every game in that spot, it’s hard to pick a winner, at least on the surface.

But it will also be a pairing of accomplished coaches and teams that aren’t quite where they would like to be, though close, when the Hurricanes and Spartans tip off in the late game on Friday at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Eighth-seeded Miami (21-11) is making its third NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Jim Larranaga, who guided the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 in their two previous March Madness excursions. Last season, Miami advanced through the first weekend before losing to eventual national champion Villanova.

Michigan State (19-14) is making its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Spartans finished lower in the Big Ten standings than usual in a four-way tie for fifth, but they’re still a team that anyone dreads to see in March.

Despite the fact that 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee shocked No. 2 Michigan State in the opening round a year ago, Spartans coach Tim Izzo has a well established reputation for building a program that delves deep in to the tournament.

Michigan State advanced at least to the Sweet 16 every year from 2012 to 2015 and earned a Final Four berth in 2015.

Izzo said his young team might still have its best basketball ahead of it…