Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dancing With The Spartans

With Selection Sunday just a day away, we thought it was time to take a look at the places MSU basketball fans could find themselves in a week's time. Today is a detailed analysis of the sub-regional sites, Sunday we'll look at the regional locales. With that, away we go!

Dayton, Ohio

Four hours and eight minutes south of East Lansing lies the favorite (and most likely) landing spot for Michigan State this year. The town has hosted Sparty many times in the past, so many State fans are familiar with the area. The town has a very active alumni club - for my money one of the nation's best-organized small alumni groups. Because of its central location, Dayton is a likely destination for any Big Ten team this side of Wisconsin, given the NCAA Selection Committee's preference for putting teams within traveling distance, even if it creates a lopsided home field advantage for the lower seed.

It's not unreasonable, then, to think that schools like Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois could land here. Big Ten fans (aside from arch-rivals like MSU-Michigan or Michigan-OSU) have a long history of cheering for their fellow conference mates. It happened at the 2005 Final Four with MSU and Illinois, and it would happen again. Hello home field advantage.

Chances of landing here: 80 percent

Minneapolis, Minn.

For some reason, I keep seeing national bloggers popping MSU into Minneapolis. I don't get it - there isn't another team slated for a 1, 2 or 3 seed that makes more geographical sense, but what do I know? Anyhow, despite the 10 hour-and-change drive time from East Lansing, Minneapolis isn't actually a terrible place to wind up. For one, it's close to the number-one alumni base outside Michigan, Chicago. For two, flying is easy given that Minneapolis/St. Paul is a hub for Northwest Airlines which just so happens to be the biggest airline in Lansing and Detroit. And that Big Ten mutual cheering arrangement would kick in here as well.

Chances of landing here: 20 percent

Greensboro, N.C. Kansas City, Mo. Philadelphia, Pa.

I'm lumping these three together because, for our purposes, there's no difference. Each is a 10-12-hour drive from Michigan, and none of them really make sense as a destination. However, each of these locations has a very huge upside - they're great "foodie" towns. Either cheesesteaks in Philly or barbecue in Carolina or Kansas City would be a great condiment to a Spartan basketball win.

Chances of landing here: <1>

Portland, Ore. Miami, Fla.

Miami has great weather in March, and I hear the public transit in Portland is nice.

Chances of landing here: Nil

Boise, Idaho

The only nice thing I can say about basketball in Boise: At least the court's not all blue.

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