It might not be fair to two other teams in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, but when breaking down Michigan State’s chances of reaching the Final Four, a common belief in recent days is, get past Virginia in Friday’s regional semifinal and the Spartans will be headed to Arlington, Texas.

But only part of that thought is based on the team Michigan State might meet in a regional final — Connecticut. What might be the bigger factor is the coach and the system in place.

As history has proven, the Spartans are most vulnerable in the first game of an NCAA weekend. Get to the second game and they are virtually unbeatable.

Under coach Tom Izzo, who has taken Michigan State to 17 straight NCAA Tournaments, the Spartans are 19-3 in the second game of the weekend and 23-12 in the first.

“I guess the numbers show it,” Izzo said. “Sometimes it’s who you play, and there’s a lot of different factors, but I’ve always thought that we’ve — our system — it’s not me, it’s the system.”

Michigan State will get a chance to put that system to the test after beating Virginia on Friday to set up Sunday’s matchup with Connecticut in the East Regional final.

The system the Spartans use has produced a heck of a record in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State is 12-1 in the round of 32 and 6-1 in regional finals. A 1-1 mark in the national championship game completes the record.

Izzo credits the early days when his assistants, many of whom have gone on to become head coaches, helped him develop their system of scouting an entire weekend’s opponents instead of just one.

“It’s the system we put in back when Brian Gregory and Tom Crean and Stan Heath and everybody was here,” he said. “We had the quick turnaround with Princeton (in 1998) and (it was) just the system. I’m sure a lot of people have good systems, but ours is proven to be pretty doggone good.”