They fell short in the B1G semifinals against Purdue, losing 75-70, but Michigan State punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament by knocking off No. 2-seed Wisconsin, 69-63, in the quarterfinal round Friday night in Indianapolis.

Two conference postseason victories — during the time when teams want to get hot — served as the tipping point in terms of a guaranteed invitation to dance. Had the Spartans lost their opening game vs. the Maryland Terrapins, we wouldn’t be talking about the Spartans in the Field of 68. One-and-done, after already being on the bubble, just wouldn’t have gotten it done for the Spartans, who haven’t missed the Big Dance since 1997.

Tom Izzo, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in coaching wins, was asked about his team’s position prior to Selection Sunday. His response was, well, what most would expect from a man who’s been to 8 Final Fours since taking over the program from his mentor, Jud Heathcote, in 1995.

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“Who knows where we’ll be seeded? Who cares where we’ll be seeded, you know? I’ve lost as a 2-seed and, you know, went to the Final Four as a 7- or 8-seed,” Izzo said, per Kyle Austin of “So I guess nothing matters except us getting a little better.”

The path

On Friday, the Spartans, No. 7 in the West Region, will face No. 10 Davidson, which just lost 64-62 to Richmond in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. In order to get out of the West, MSU will likely have to get by Duke and Gonzaga.

Through December and into mid-January, the Spartans put together a season-high 9 consecutive wins. The Tournament is all about being able to string together wins — and it takes 6 to win it all, or 7 for play-in teams — so the Spartans should emphasize that fact during preparation for Davidson. Though it’s been months since they’ve been consistent, there is a glimmer of hope … kind of …

Some of Izzo’s best teams have been the most surprising. So if the Spartans get around Davidson, they’ll then have the pleasure of (probably) facing Duke, which drew Cal State-Fullerton for its opening contest. Gonzaga, the overall No. 1 seed, is also in the West. So is Texas A&M.

Yeah, this region looks like it could present some major hurdles.

Who to watch

With Tyson Walker questionable for the tournament with an ankle injury, the already-inconsistent point guard spot will have to be handled by AJ Hoggard. Again, and this can’t be stressed enough: Past MSU teams have had superstar PGs, and this team does not have that luxury. No Tum Tum Nairn, Travis Trice, Kalin Lucas or Cassius Winston, no Drew Neitzel. Spartans basketball has long been held together by the point man, so this year’s squad will have to rely on other resources in order to make a run through March and early April.

With 16 points vs. Purdue, Gabe Brown tallied his highest total since putting up 20 during a loss to Rutgers in early February. It’s been more than one month since Brown has really displayed his scoring ability — so needless to say, MSU will need him at full-tilt if it hopes to make something happen during the postseason.

Max Christie, a true freshman, was supposed to be a high-flying scorer and eventual star for Izzo. Development has been a bit slow for the wingman, but he had 21-, 17- and 16-point performances during the Spartans’ early-season 9-game winning streak.

It always helps to have some size, and Marcus Bingham provides that for Michigan State. The 6-11, 225-pound senior has averaged 9.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game — a decent line — but could erupt during the postseason, depending on matchups. He’s (relatively) fresh off a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against Wisconsin, one of his best games at MSU, and he just put up 9 and 6 during the 5-point loss to Purdue.

Bottom line

As mentioned above, don’t expect any miracles with this MSU team. Some may look back to 2015, when the Spartans were very much bubbly, but then ended up making a run to the Final Four. But that run was fueled by Travis Trice, a solid point guard (remember how MSU lacks in that department).

Facing Duke, and so early, would be the worst-case scenario for Izzo, who’s always struggled against Coach K during March Madness. OK, “struggle” isn’t the right word. Izzo has been owned by K, who is coaching his final NCAA Tournament with the Blue Devils. Could Izzo get win No. 2, should he face Duke after beating Davidson? Well, probably not (he’s 1-11 vs. K) — and it’s not even guaranteed that the Spartans will beat the Wildcats.