Michigan State basketball opens its 2018 NCAA Tournament against Bucknell on Friday, March 16, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The Spartans are seeded No. 3 in the Midwest region while Bucknell is No. 14.
Find game time, watch online, radio and streaming information for the game below.
The Spartans haven’t gotten past the first weekend of the tournament the last two years, losing in the first round to Middle Tennessee State in 2016 and in the second round against Kansas last year. They won the Big Ten regular-season title, going 29-4 overall and 16-2 in conference play, and had a 13-game win streak until losing to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Bucknell (25-9) won the Patriot League regular season championship as well as the conference tournament. The Bison are making their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. The program has two wins in its tournament history (2005 vs. Kansas, 2006 vs. Arkansas) and gave West Virginia a tough game last year before losing 86-80 in the first round.
Michigan State-Bucknell basketball: Time, game information
Michigan State and Bucknell play at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday, March 16.
- Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
- Date: Friday, March 16
- TV Channel: CBS
- Location: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
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Michigan State-Bucknell basketball preview
It’s hard to argue that Tom Izzo has had a more talented roster in his days as Michigan State’s coach, and the Spartans have backed up that belief by winning 29 games heading into the NCAA Tournament, but now is the time when the true test of the season begins. Several analysts and experts picked the Spartans to win the championship this season, and as a No. 3 seed they are definitely a contender.
The pressure will be on sophomore forward Miles Bridges, a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, classmates Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Joshua Langford and freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. to live up to all the expectations they’ve produced.
Don’t expect the Spartans to look past Bucknell (25-9), the champions of the Patriot League regular season and conference tournament. The Bison may be the No. 14 seed but it was only two years ago that No. 15 Middle Tennessee State ruined many brackets across the country with a 90-81 victory against the No. 2 Spartans in the first round. MTSU made 11 3-point shots in that upset win, and Bucknell is a similar team when it comes to shooting from deep.
It is averaging 81.1 points per game and shooting 34.3 percent from 3-point range. The Bison have attempted 784 3-point shots this season, which is 39.3 percent of their overall field goal attempts. They make an average of 7.9 from behind the arc each game, including 12 games reaching double figures. Senior forward Zach Thomas is averaging 20.3 points per game and making 37.3 percent of his 3-point shots. Thomas also averages 9.2 rebounds. Senior guard Steven Brown is averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 assists per game. He’s made 60 3-point shots.
Bucknell returns all five starters from last season when it gave West Virginia a scare in the first round before losing 86-80.
Izzo has said that Jackson, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, will draw the first assignment on Thomas. Michigan State is allowing just 64.8 points per game and opponents are making just 36.6 percent of their shots against the Spartans.
All five starters for the Spartans are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Bridges (16.9). Winston and Ward (12.6) follow, with Langford (11.7) and Jackson (11.3) close behind. Michigan State is outrebounding opponents by an average of more than 10 per game. Bucknell shouldn’t pose a threat in that area but 6-foot-10 senior center Nana Foulland is averaging 7.1 rebounds as well as 15.4 points per game.
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