The NCAA Tournament continues on Sunday with third round action. In the Midwest Region we will see the No. 1 seed Michigan State Spartans take on the No. 9 seed St Louis Bilikens. The game is scheduled for a 2:45 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds have Michigan State favored by 7 points with the total sitting at 123 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: One step closer to reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, the Saint Louis Billikens will challenge the mighty Michigan State Spartans in the 74th annual NCAA Tournament from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Billikens had not won an NCAA tournament game in 14 years. They cracked the national rankings early in the season, and they also closed well, winning 12 of their final 15 games. Saint Louis' foundation is a defense that has been one of the best in the country all year, allowing just 57.5 points and forcing just under 15 turnovers per contest. As was expected, the defense by the Billikens took center stage on Friday as the squad held Memphis to just nine field goals in the first half and 38.9 percent shooting from the floor overall, not to mention 2-of-15 behind the three-point line. Offensively the Billikens were paced by Kwamain Mitchell who dropped in a game-high 22 points, converting 4-of-7 shots behind the three-point line, followed by Brian Conklin with 16 points, although he made just 3-of-9 from the floor and was tagged for eight turnovers without benefit of a single assist. Dwayne Evans contributed with a team-high 11 rebounds. Usually a reliable shooter at 52.7 percent from the floor on the season, Conklin leads the program in scoring with 14.0 ppg and is also one of the better rebounders on the squad with close to five per game, trailing only Evans (7.9 ppg) who is pulling down 7.4 rpg for a team that has been beating the opposition on the glass by an average of close to two rebounds per game this season and topping them on the scoreboard by 11.5 ppg as well. The victory over Memphis made SLU 5-1 on neutral floors this season and 4-1 over the last five games altogether. The Bilikens are also 17-10-1 ATS overall and 6-5 ATS on the road. As for the Spartans, the top seed in the West Region, they were challenged by Long Island on Friday but managed to produce an 89-67 victory to advance. The Spartans have made it to the Final Four eight times and have won the national title in both 1979 and 2000, generating a record of 53-24 all-time in the event thanks to the win in the second round, which also happened to keep the program a perfect 9-0 in games played on March 16 over the years.Draymond Green again proved why he was so deserving of being named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year as he registered just the eighth official triple-double in the history of the NCAA Tournament and became the first player ever to have two such efforts (officially) in NCAA Tournament play, as assists were not kept as a stat until the 1980's. Green was huge in the win over LIU Brooklyn as he posted 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the 22-point rout of the 16th seed in the region. As remarkable as Green's performance was on Friday, it came almost a year to the day that he delivered 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to UCLA in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Green has been as dominating as anyone has been for his own team this season, leading the Spartans in rebounding in all but six of 35 outings, pacing the group in scoring 20 times and leading the way in the passing department in 13 games. In almost half of the last 15 contests Green has led the way in all three of those crucial categories. Like the Bilikens, the Spartans have been extremely tough defensively, ranking among the national leaders in opponent field-goal percentage (37.7) and 12th in scoring defense (59.0) during the regular season, while offensively they have averaged 72.6 ppg (66th) on 48.15 shooting (20th). A complete team at both ends of the floor. ATS wise Sparty has gone 22-10 ATS overall, including 11-6 ATS away from home and 5-1 ATS on neutral courts. This game marks just the second all-time meeting between these two teams, with the Billikens delivering a 74-64 win over MSU during the 1989 NIT at Madison Square Garden.
Free Pick: I have really liked the Michigan State team all year and I believe they are on course for a date in the NCAA Finals. The Spartans are the best team in the Big 10, which is the top rated conference overall and even though the Bilikens had a solid year they are still from the A-10 and not really in the class of the Spartans here. I also firmly believe that after what happened on Friday these higher seeds will not take the lower seeds for granted. Syracuse had an easy win vs Kansas state and so did Kentucky on Saturday. Both teams play great defense, but the Spartans have a bit more on offense and the Billikens don't have anyone that can hang Green. The Spartans are 5-1 ATS on neutral courts this year and Are just too talented to think that the Bilikens can hang with them here. Spartans by DD here.
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