Delaware coach Monte Ross likes the concept of wearing the Cinderella slipper as much as any coach of a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament, and he's proud to have a Blue Hens team that features three players averaging more than 18 points.

But Ross is a realist. He has real concerns about the bigger, stronger, deeper and more celebrated No. 4-seeded Michigan State team (26-8) that Delaware (25-9) will open the NCAA tournament against at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (TV: TNT) at Veterans Memorial Arena.

"They shot 50 percent in the Big Ten tournament, and they weren't playing against bad teams, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan,'' Ross said. "The fact they shoot 48 percent overall, that means, one, they have very good players and two, those good players are getting some good shots.

"The fact they are very efficient offensively is a concern.''

Particularly when one considers the Blue Hens, with their four-guard lineup, have their challenges on defense.

Delaware senior Devon Saddler, the leading scorer in the program's history, said the Blue Hens will have to compensate with more offense.

"They play good defense, like coach said, from the time they get off the bus,'' Saddler told delawareonline.com earlier this week. "We're a good offensive team so I think it'll be a great matchup."

Saddler told the Delaware news organization, which includes The News Journal, that he played against Michigan State point guard Keith Appling last summer at Chris Paul Camp.

Ross said the Spartans showed in the Big Ten tournament that they have regained their swagger, in terms of more closely resembling Michigan State teams of the past.

"Their reputation is they guard you from the time they get off the bus,'' he said, "and they rebound the ball.''