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Final Four 2019: Five Reasons Why Michigan State Will Win The NCAA Tournament Championship



On several points during the season, Michigan State was scratched by the list of national title competitors. There have been various reasons to put an expectation short of the last four, from injuries to key players all the way to its election Sunday drawing of landing in the eastern region with No. 1 assembled seed duke. During the year, the Spartans ranked one of the most effective teams in the country, overcoming the injuries and ending with part of the big ten regular season championships, a big ten tournament title and an impressive 3-0 record against rival Michigan.

There is a resiliency with this Michigan State Team has become a cornerstone of its success in the NCAA tournament. It is a mental toughness with defense and rebounding at the head of their mind, and a Hall of Fame trainer leads the way on the sidelines. What on paper may not have "seen" as a national title tag against likes in Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky is the closest we have a blue blood in the Final Four, so maybe it's time to change our minds on what a National Championship contender "looks" like.

Here are five reasons to believe that Michigan State will cut the net in Minneapolis:

1

. Cassius Winston is the playmaking guard that the team often needs to win a title : This year's Big Ten Player has increased among its peers when it comes to individual performances in this tournament, but it has not been the statistics. Both Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo – individually after Sunday's game – made the same point about Winston: the junior point guard has the innate ability to understand exactly what games should be made at certain points in the game to lead his team to victory. Sometimes it is a shootout, sometimes it drives to the rim, and often it is to create a teammate, but that's exactly the game that Michigan State needs at different pivots in the game's flow.

After a predominantly dominant first half against the LSU, Michigan State had a few sharp possessions that helped the tigers to climb back into the game. There was no panic, Izzo said because he felt that Winston was in total control – despite a handful of revenue. Winston finished the game with 17 points and eight assists, but the fact that he is able to be the coach on the floor is what Michigan State better than its opponents in crucial moments of these high-pressure tournament games.

2. Michigan State is the most versatile team in Minneapolis : Three of the last four four participants have firmly established identities. Virginia has its pace and patience on misdemeanor and elite package defense. Texas Tech is also dependent on a sustained defense effort that fights its opponents with Jarrett Culver as a spark plug on offense. Auburn has relied much less on defense but is as dangerous as anyone in the country shoots 3-pointers and uses a pace to move his high-october offense.

Michigan State, by contrast, is much harder to sip because it has so many different ways to win. Sparty can play the slow game and win as it did with Michigan three times this year. They can also come out and run a little if necessary, which the team showed when it jumped over LSU early in their Sweet 16 win. Man-to-man defense is so relentless that teams often need much of the shot clock just to get a shot, but when Michigan State has the ball, there is no obvious intention to wake the clock. The stylistic contrasts and strength-to-strength stories reinforce the matchup analysis, and Michigan State has already proven its ability to win any kind of game the opponent wants to play.

3. More X Factors : Besides being versatile in the way they win, Spartans have plenty of opportunities for potential game breakers beyond Cassius Winston. Kenny Goins, a senior and former walk-on, was ready when his name was called for the game winning shot against Duke. Matt McQuaid, another senior, has a fearlessness and warrior mentality that has him playing much larger than his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame would suggest – questioning the strength and end of a pinnacle dunk.

Xavier Tillman had a wonderful weekend in D.C. and was named the East Regional All-Touring Team. Aaron Henry has found confidence in strong season performances during this race. Opponents will probably start their efforts by trying to limit Winston, but you can go through the starting line and move on to the sixth man Nick Ward – coming out of the bench since his return from injury – to find potential X factors that can drive Michigan Style for a victory.

4. Tom Izzo has a great coaching edge against the field : While three coaches make their Final Four debuts, Izzo comes out of one of his most impressive coaching jobs in leading the Spartans through LSU and Duke and doing its eighth appearance in the Final Four hoping to capture another national title. Both the LSU and the Duke had talents and athletic benefits over the Spartans, but the aftermath of both games had the Spartans playing a lot of money for the coaching staff to enable them to win with an excellent match plan and scouting report from the opponent. Against the LSU, it was all about cut-outs and rebounding – so much so that Izzo put signs over the entire team hotel and closet – and towards Duke it was a full-blown effort to refuse Zion Williamson's ball and the wall of RJ Barrett from driving to the basket. After the Izzo clip came down hard, Henry went viral and triggered a national conversation that expanded far beyond college basketball. Henry continued to have his best game in Sweet 16.

5. A winning tradition can affect mental toughness : There is something about the belief that a team should win or should have been to win as I mean when the best teams in the country struggle to survive in this tournament. That the winner's mentality must first be established successfully, but that is why it continues to gain more success. Some of it comes safely to the recruitment path where successful seasons lead to better recruitment and better players are able to maintain this success. But this Michigan State Team is the opposite, as it is a team that believes it belongs and deserves to win because of a "Spartan heritage" that continues to take hold. Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves and Charlie Bell joined this team in Washington, D.C. and one can bet several former masters and Michigan State Legends are going to attend the Minneapolis party at the weekend. When these program legends are able to communicate both what is required to win a championship and that this 2019 Spartan team has that potential, it is a winner's mentality that can be the difference between one of these programs that does something historic level by just reaching the last four.

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