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Michigan State Spartans first No. 4 seed favored to beat a No. 1 seed since 2005

Friday night, Michigan State will try to make history once again.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo watches as his players defeat Harvard in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the betting odds were released on the No. 4 seed Michigan State taking on the No. 1 seed in Virginia and the Spartans are 2-point chalk against the top-seeded Cavaliers.

In the ten times that Michigan State has faced a No. 1 seed in the tournament since 1996, they've come out at 3-7 - not the most spectacular record. But this Friday's match up marks a historic occasion, being that it is only the second time that a No. 4 seed has been favored over a No. 1 seed since 1996.

The Spartans do have recent history on their side in the fact that the last time this happened, No. 4 Louisville was favored over No. 1 Washington and the Cardinals ended up coming out on top back in 2005.

Michigan State could be in a position right now that they don't often find themselves in - and may not be completely comfortable with: As the favorite.

Over the past few years and through numerous tournaments in the past, the Spartans have been vocal about their thriving in the underdog role. Even as they are about to face a No. 1 seed as a No. 4 seed, MSU is still favored to win, which is something that head coach Tom Izzo has said he's never cared about in the past. Still, in his classic ways, Izzo gave all credit where credit was due when he was asked about how good their Sweet 16 opponent Virginia really is.

"Why are they a No. 1 seed? Because of the way they defend and rebound the ball," Izzo said. "This is one of the best defensive teams in the whole country, if not the best. And they are big.

"They're a very big, physical, strong team; people say they look like a Big Ten team. This is a bump and grind team."

Despite what the oddsmakers and betting experts say, Izzo still loves to talk like his team is an underdog going into every game - sometimes, even, appearing humble to a fault.

"I've gotten a chance to get to look at a ton of film on them now," Izzo said. "Knowing (head coach) Tony Bennett, I have a great appreciation for what Tony has done. When you win the ACC and the conference tournament, that bodes well for you. They got guys who have been on the All-ACC team and the All-Defensive team.

"They've gotten it covered in every way."

You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at

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