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“We expected to get back in the tournament,” he said.

The senior-less Bruins finished second in the Pac-10, while the Spartans (19-14) ended in a four-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten.

“We know they’re a good team. They’ve got experience,” Honeycutt said.

UCLA’s victories included wins over BYU, St. John’s, and Arizona, one of the four Pac-10 teams that got into the NCAA tournament. The Bruins lost at Kansas by one point; the Jayhawks are the top seed in the Southwest Region. They went 7-3 in their past 10 games.

The Spartans beat Washington of the Pac-10 and Wisconsin, while their losses included games against Connecticut, Duke, Syracuse and Texas. They were 6-4 in their past 10.

“Michigan State is a better team than a 10 seed,” Lee said. “They got a lot of talent. We can’t take them lightly. We can’t take any teams for granted.”

If they win Thursday, the Bruins would face either Florida or UC Santa Barbara.