Top seeds give Spartans tall order.

Michigan State leads a wide-open region

Posted: March 12, 2012

The West bracket appears to be the most wide-open in the field with four conference tournament champions - top seed Michigan State, No. 2 Missouri, No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 New Mexico - right up there at the top.

It doesn't stop there.

The third seed, Marquette, boasted the Big East's best 1-2 punch in forward Jae Crowder and guard Darius Johnson-Odom and is ready to forget a sloppy performance that knocked them out of the conference tournament in one night.

Then you have the No. 6 seed, Murray State, which went through the season with a 30-1 record amid cries that it played soft competition. The Racers can't wait to show their critics that they mean business.

Michigan State lost freshman guard Branden Dawson in the final regular-season game with a knee injury, so its road might be a little bumpier than first expected. Louisville, which won four straight games and the title in the Big East tournament, could be a problem to the Spartans.

Missouri and Marquette will collide in the Sweet 16, and we've got the Tigers advancing there and past the Spartans or Cardinals to get to the Final Four.

- Joe Juliano

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