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Dance Card: Michigan State, Big Ten at-large

A veteran team that is sometimes overlooked.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Who? The Spartans of Michigan State.

What? Sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, especially when your student body comes up with a name as uncreative as The Michigan Staters. (As a quarter Spartan by blood, I feel obligated to state that I don't feel offended by the use of my people's name, unless Michigan State has an awful, awful game.)

Where? East Lansing, Michigan, which spent sixty years as a dry college town.

When? March 23rd, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Why? Nice RPI, and tying for the regular season title of a BCS conference does tend to get a team a lot of respect.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Surprise? Predicted to finish third in the conference, they tied Penn State for first, but dropped to second on the tiebreaker.

RPI: 32

SOS: 46

Record: 22-9 (13-3 Big Ten)

Good wins: Nebraska.

Bad losses: IPFW.

Who's running this show? Suzy Merchant, since 2007, a former Chippewa.

Extra, Extra! The Lansing State Journal.

Michigan State has a phenomenal ability to be overlooked, but always be right in the thick of things. They're not statistically impressive, but they play tenacious team defense with intensity that's almost frightening when they're on their game. Freshman guard Aerial Powers has made a splash in her first season, leading the Spartans with 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds; classmate Tori Jankoska is second with 12.4. But the core of this team is juniors and seniors- Klarissa Bell at the point, Becca Mills down low, Annalise Pickrel doing pretty much all the things- who are tested and tough.