"The 6'7" Thomas was the league's Patriot League Player of the Year as he averaged 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds.
(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) N.C. State - This I think is a tremendous matchup between two teams that are much better than where they are seeded.
State has done their usual routine this season- start really fast, rise up the polls, then stumble in midseason, only to dominate in March. They worked on their fast-break offense more after Big Ten teams focused on slowing it down in conference play.
Should the Spartans beat Bucknell, they would face the victor of Friday night's late game between No. 6 seed TCU and victor of the play-in game between 11-seeds Arizona State and Syracuse on Sunday. This was never in doubt with Bucknell holding a 51.7%-32.7% shooting edge including a 13-28 effort on threes.
Maybe it's because of this new procedure where the committee judges teams by how many teams they've beaten in various "quadrants" of Division I. Maybe it's because there are so many teams that all look alike this year. That isn't hyperbole, it's a fact.
"We're at a good place right now", Brown said. "We played tough opponents like Arkansas and last year's National Champion North Carolina to give us a chance to challenge ourselves and expose our weaknesses early on so we could work on them and get back to the tournament".
His focus is on No. 14-seed Bucknell, a team that has three 1,000-point scorers, can score in the paint and on the perimeter, and has three seniors with a boatload of experience. "But leagues are usually judged by how their best teams do".
Michigan State hasn't played in almost two weeks and Izzo believes the layoff was beneficial to Bridges, who has shot below 50 percent in each of the team's last six games.
Only two teams received at-large berths with 14 or more losses last season.
"We shake our heads that they're a No. 3 seed", he said. "Very rarely do you come across guys that are absolutely selfless". They don't care who gets the shots.
Which Bucknell has done to an incredible degree.
Bucknell won the Patriot League regular season by four games.
After a season spent almost wire-to-wire in the Associated Press top five, Spartans players aren't shying away from the expectations. They went to see "Hamilton" in Chicago, practiced at the Bulls' facility and saw the National Basketball Association team play.
The "great student" part isn't limited to just Foulland, however. Their team is rounded out by center Nana Foulland who's been a starter since his freshman season. The biomedical engineer's project was an "improved prototype for a stabilization device for those undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting". "Now in 2018, he uses the data I present to him 100 percent to make decisions such as how hard to practice".
The Spartan's title hopes stay alive going into Saturday.