Don't count out Michigan State

Updated: February 6, 2013, 1:52 PM ET
By Seth Greenberg

The college basketball teams that most are focusing on right now are either (a) the top-ranked contenders or (b) the potential bubble teams. But don't be surprised if some of the teams in the middle ground between those two groups end up having a major impact come March.

For the purposes of this article we'll call them sleepers -- teams that aren't likely to be conference champions because of early or midseason stumbles, but still have what it takes to go on a run and reach the Final Four. We see teams fitting that profile emerge in the tournament every season, and these four teams are the prime candidates to do so in 2013.

Michigan State Spartans

No coach in college basketball prepares his team better for the NCAA tournament than Tom Izzo. He truly treats the season as a journey for his team, with the destination being playing your best basketball in March.

What makes this season's Spartans so dangerous in March is the maturation of their guards. Keith Appling and Gary Harris have developed into an elite backcourt. This is a long way from where they were at the start of the season in MSU's opener versus Connecticut.