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NCAA tournament team previews: Michigan State Spartans

Adreian Payne, Michigan State SpartansAdreian Payne is one of many Spartans who suffered injuries during the season, but the team appears healthy now and primed for a tournament run. (Getty Images)

As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. For more teams, click here.

Record: 26-8, 12-6 in Big Ten

RPI/SOS: 17/13

Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 117.1 (11th) / 96.7 (40th)

Impact player: Adreian Payne: 15.7 PPG, 7.3 RBG, .429 3PT pct.

Seed: No. 4 in East

The Case For:

Coach Tom Izzo’s roster might only be a 4-seed, but the Spartans bring one of the better offenses in the country to March Madness. Branden Dawson, Gary Harris and company form the 11th most efficient offense in the country, according to KenPom’s adjusted rankings. Michigan State has used that attack to win its games by an average of 10.6 points in a wild but challenging Big Ten. The Spartans kick off the Big Dance on a high note, as well: They upset rival (and eventual 2-seed) Michigan to win the Big Ten tournament championship.

The Case Against:

Prior to the Big Ten tournament, Michigan State slipped a bit in the second half of the season. After opening the year 18-1, Sparty closed the regular season with a 5-7 record. Much of that was due to injury, which could come into play as the tournament progresses. Can Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and the rest of the Spartans stay healthy enough to make a tourney run and live up to their preseason expectations? That’s one aspect of the game that’s simply a roll of the dice.

SI Prediction: Beat Delaware in second round, beat Harvard in third round, beat Iowa State in Sweet 16, beat Iowa State in Elite 8, lose to Florida in Final Four.

View complete bracket predictions from SI.com’s panel of experts

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