EAST LANSING, Mich. — After making a run to the semifinal of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan State (21-11 overall, 9-7 B1G) has earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans will play No. 8 seed Arizona State (19-12 overall, 9-9 Pac-12) for the first time in school history in Columbia, S.C. on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“I figured we’d be in that eight, nine game,” MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. “Maybe a seven, but I figured probably more eight, nine. I didn’t think we were a 10, but the women’s game with teams hosting at home, the procedural bump, things happen.”
MSU Women's Basketball Celebrates 2017 NCAA Tournament Berth
ABOVE: The Michigan State women’s basketball team celebrates the announcement of their NCAA tournament bid. Video credit: Zachary Manning/Impact
The Sun Devils advanced to the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament, but ultimately lost to UCLA, 77-68. ASU has some quality wins, defeating No. 12 Kentucky and No. 21 California. However, the Sun Devils did have their fair share of losses against top teams, losing to No. 6 Maryland, No. 8 Washington, twice to No. 10 Stanford and three times to No. 15 UCLA.
ASU is led by 6-foot-1 senior forward Sophie Brunner, who is averaging 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 52.5 percent from the field this season. Quinn Dornstauder is another player the Sun Devils will rely on to beat the Spartans. The 6-foot-4 senior center is averaging 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds this season.
“Well, let’s just say there’s not a lot of sleeping going on here in the next few days until we get on that plane and head down there, but we’re just looking forward to the challenge,” Merchant said.
MSU was a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season and was set to host its first two games of the tournament. However, due to Michigan high school basketball championships being played at the Breslin Center, the Spartans were forced to play in Starkville, Miss. and ended up losing to Mississippi State in the Round of 32, 74-72.
MSU is looking to put the past behind them and trying to make a run in the 2017 tournament, while senior guard Tori Jankoska is looking forward to her last NCAA Tournament as a Spartan.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Jankoska said. “It’s exciting cause we get to play again. Not everybody gets the opportunity to play more basketball and to be able to play and put the jersey on and play with my teammates one more time, play for coach Merchant one more time is pretty special.”