NCAAB: Previewing the 2024 NCAA Tournament West Region - Does Michigan State have a shot?

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NCAA Basketball Sports News


  • Michigan State received the ninth seed in the NCAA Tournament West Region and will face eighth-seeded Mississippi State Thursday afternoon.
  • North Carolina, the ACC regular season champion, got the top seed.
  • The Final Four is scheduled for State Farm Stadium April 6 and 8 in Phoenix.

Michigan State fans won’t have to wait long.

The Spartans will be the first game of the main field of the NCAA Tournament Thursday when they take on Mississippi State Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in Charlotte. It’s the 26th straight bid for the Spartans, which is a Big Ten record and the third longest streak all time.

Michigan sportsbooks are all set to go for March Madness. The Golden Nugget will have odds on all of the games starting with the First Four in Dayton Tuesday. Caesars and BetMGM have markets on the winner of the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans resume isn’t super impressive, but they’ve shown they can go head-to-head with anyone in the nation. They had Purdue in trouble late in the Big Ten Tournament, before faltering late.

What Do the Oddsmakers Say? 

The West Region includes the Spartans, plus perhaps the weakest No. 1 seed in the tournament in North Carolina, and a coach who already got fired.

Of the four top seeds, North Carolina is the only one not favored to win their Region. At FanDuel, Arizona is the top choice at +230, followed by the Tar Heels (+380) and Baylor and Alabama (+700). Michigan State is +1300. The Spartans are also 1.5-point favorites over the Bulldogs.

U. Conn remains the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title, but remember, no team has repeated as national champs since Florida in 2007.

Best First Round Game 

It’s a copout to go with the 8 vs. 9 game, but it’s Michigan State and Mississippi State, two teams with a lot of interesting parts.

Mississippi State started the season 11-2, but finished 21-13 and only 8-10 in the SEC. Why are they here? Because they seem to be the only team that can beat Tennessee. The Bulldogs smoked the Vols twice, once in the regular season and clobbered them in the SEC Tournament. They’re led by freshman guard Josh Hubbard, who scored 17.1 points a game. The Bulldogs are 18-14-1 against the spread this season.

Michigan State was a bubble team, but their defensive prowess and reputation definitely helped them get in. The Spartans played one of the toughest schedules in the country. They’re 16-14-1 against the spread, and 18-13 overall.

The Wild Wild West Region 

The West Region features two-seed Arizona taking on Long Beach State in the first round. Long Beach State fired coach Dan Monson after five straight losses in the regular season. Then Long Beach won the Big West Tournament to get an automatic bid.

Nevada, the 10 seed, is the early favorite to upset No. 7 Dayton in the first round. The Wolf Pack are coached by former Big Ten legend Steve Alford. Sixth-seeded Clemson hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2018. They’re underdogs to New Mexico. 

The College of Charleston has won 12 games in a row. They’re the 13 seed taking on Alabama. One of the most interesting match-ups is St. Mary vs. Grand Canyon University in the first round. St. Mary ran through the West Coast Conference and has won 16 in a row. The Antelopes are 29-4, the best record in school history and led by former Kansas standout Tyon Grant-Foster.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.