That Jud Heathcote is on to something -- he really may be Michigan State's lucky charm in the confines of eastern Washington.

The No. 4 seed Spartans beat No. 12 seed Harvard 80-73 Saturday in the third round of the NCAA tournament, advancing to their sixth Sweet 16 in the past seven seasons.

MSU is now 4-0 in the NCAA tournament in Spokane, having previously won two games here in the 2010 tournament. The Spartans are 5-0 in Spokane under Tom Izzo, having also won at Gonzaga on Dec. 10, 2011.

And Michigan State (28-8) needed every ounce of karma it could get from Heathcote, who preceded Izzo as the Spartans' coach. Michigan State saw its 16-point second-half lead evaporate before bouncing back for the win.

Harvard's Wesley Saunders picked off a Matt Costello pass and dunked it down to tie the game at 55 with 9:07 to go. Keith Appling found Gary Harris for a 3-pointer in transition to pull the Spartans ahead 58-55 and stop a 19-3 Harvard run, but Appling picked up his fourth foul on the other end and headed to bench.

The Crimson's Laurent Rivard hit a 3-pointer to give Harvard the lead, 62-60. But Michigan State's Travis Trice answered with a 3-pointer of his own, leaving the Spartans with a precarious 63-62 lead with only 6:24 to go.

Denzel Valentine stretched that lead to 71-63 with a clutch 3-pointer in the corner, bringing the Spokane Spartan fans to their most raucous levels.

But Rivard -- much like he did against Cincinnati in the second round -- found his touch late, sinking another 3-pointer to pull the Crimson within five with 2:48 to go.

Saunders aggressively stole the ball out of Harris' hands with less than a minute to play but Harvard was unable to convert the layup. One Denzel Valentine free throw, four by Harris and two by Keith Appling -- his first points of the night -- eventually put the grand idea of an upset to rest.

Harvard's Steve Moundou-Miss -- who went scoreless in the first half -- led the Crimson charge, scoring nine points during a 19-3 run in the second half. He finished with 11. Saunders led Harvard with 22.

Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are now 19-3 in the second game of an NCAA tournament weekend, with all three losses having come to No. 1 seeds.