Here's why you might see Barry Sanders during Michigan State's Sweet 16 game

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A lot of college basketball fans perhaps not completely clued into Michigan State basketball appeared to be taken aback when Pro Football Hall of Famer and Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders appeared on their television screens wearing a green and white MSU cap — and sitting behind former MSU football coach Mark Dantonio and Kirk Gibson — during the Spartans' second-round NCAA tournament game Sunday against Marquette.

But as all Spartan supporters know, there's a very simple explanation as to why Sanders was in Columbus, Ohio, for the game. His son, Nick, is a freshman on the MSU basketball team.

Nick, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound guard from Franklin, Michigan, played his prep basketball at Detroit Country Day — the same school that produced former NBA and college stars Chris Webber, Shane Battier and JaVale McGee — and averaged 10 points, three rebounds and four assists per game as a senior.

From right, Kirk Gibson, Mark Dantonio and Barry Sanders watch as the Michigan State Spartans take on the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament at Nationwide Arena.
From right, Kirk Gibson, Mark Dantonio and Barry Sanders watch as the Michigan State Spartans take on the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament at Nationwide Arena.

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And in case you're wondering, yes, Nick does in fact wear No. 20 — the same iconic number Barry wore for the Lions during his 10-year NFL career.

Nick Sanders has played in seven games for MSU this season, and is 0 for 2 from the field. His last appearance came against Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament.

Barry tweeted this out when Nick appeared in the Spartans' exhibition game win over Grand Valley State back in November.

Nick isn't the first Sanders kid to play collegiately. Barry's eldest son, Barry J. Sanders, played running back at Stanford from 2012-15 and at Barry's alma mater, Oklahoma State, in 2016.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Why you might see Barry Sanders while watching March Madness