Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, left, and Michigan coach John Beilein. / Photo illustration
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) Both Michigan and Michigan State don't have to travel far to begin their runs to the national championship.
This is the third time Michigan State will play NCAA tournament games in its home state. MSU, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional, will play No. 14 seed Valparaiso on Thursday at the Palace in its first game.
Michigan will also play Thursday at the Palace. U-M got a 4 seed in the South Region and will play No. 13 South Dakota State.
No. 5 VCU and No. 12 Akron are on the other side of the bracket for U-M. If the Spartans win, they'll face the winner of No. 6 Memphis and No. 11 Middle Tennesee State.
The Spartans beat Syracuse and Iowa State in the Midwest Regional semifinals and finals to advance to the Final Four in 2000, en route to the national title. And MSU beat Connecticut in the national semifinals and lost to North Carolina in the national championship game in 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit.
This is the second time MSU will be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. The first will bring back bad memories for Spartans fans -- MSU lost as a No. 3 seed to No. 14 seed Weber State in the first round of the 1995 tournament, Jud Heathcote's final game as head coach.
South Dakota State (25-9) won the Summit League and is led by super scorer Nate Wolters.
Valparaiso (26-7) won the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships. They lost to the Big Ten's Nebraska, 50-48, on Nov. 15.