The NCAA Tournament continues on Thursday with the Sweet Sixteen. Here we will see the No.1 seed Michigan State Spartans take on the No.4 seed Louisville Cardinals. The game is scheduled for a 9:45 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on TBS. Currently the odds have Michigan State favored by 5 points with the total sitting at 125 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: Michigan State has been a mainstay in the Sweet 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams back in the mid-1980's, present now for the 12th time overall. Head coach Tom Izzo has guided the group to seven wins in the last eight tests at this stage of the tourney. In terms of overall success in the event, the Spartans are now 54-24 in 26 appearances and have brought home the trophy in both 1979 and 2000. Michigan State does a great job working the ball around for high-percentage shots, ranking 26th in the nation in assists (15.4 APG) and 16th in FG Pct. (48.2%). The Spartans don’t make a whole lot of threes (5.4 per game, 236th in nation), but have three players that shoot at a high percentage from behind the arc in Austin Thornton (47%), Travis Trice (41%) and Brandon Wood (37%), so they are certainly capable of shooting over the 2-3 zone that Louisville sometimes employs. Draymond Green has been unbelievable in two NCAA Tournament wins this year, tallying a triple-double (24 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) in a blowout of LIU Brooklyn and then carrying his team past Saint Louis on Sunday with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Green, who was named to the All-Big Ten First Team, the All-Defensive Team and the conference player of the year by the league coaches, is trying to become the first player from one of the power six conferences to average at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists since Tim Duncan turned the trick for Wake Forest 15 years ago. As one of the most versatile performers ever to put on an MSU jersey, Green is also second in program history in rebounds (1,080), steals (179) and blocked shots (115). As for the Cardinals, now 62-39 in the tournament all-time, they rank fifth among programs in Sweet 16 appearances with a total of 18 since 1975 and they have reached the Elite Eight 11 times, while Rick Pitino is a stellar 9-0 in games played in the round of 16. Louisville has held its two NCAA Tournament opponents to 59.0 PPG on 37% FG and 21% threes (9-of-42), but it struggled to contain New Mexico big man Drew Gordon. The 6-foot-9 senior owned the lane on Saturday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The Cardinals know they’ll have to do a much better job inside against Green and the other plus-sized frontcourt players for Michigan State. Sophomore C Gorgui Dieng (9.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG) and freshman F Chane Behanan (9.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG) will be tasked with manning the paint. Louisville is at its best when junior PG Peyton Siva (9.1 PPG, 5.5 APG) is on his game. After a brilliant four-game Big East Tournament (13.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.8 APG) and a strong NCAA opener against Davidson (17 points, six assists), Siva had just six points (2-of-6 FG) and five assists in Saturday’s win over the Lobos. Luckily for the Cards, sophomore G Russ Smith busted out of shooting slump (14-of-64 FG, 22% in previous seven games) to score a team-high 17 points against UNM. The Cards are still not shooting all that well as they have hit 40.4% or less of their shots in 9 of their last 12 games and less than 35% in 5 of those games and it won't get any easier vs this defense. Louisville has gone 12-5 ATS on the road this year, while MSU is 11-7 ATS away from home. Louisville is 4-3 all-time in the series.
Free Pick: This game is a little like the Syracuse/ Wisconsin game as you have two very good defenses, but only one team that can score. In their last game Louisville did shoot the ball better in the game vs the Lobos (45.8%), but in that game they did get an unexpected contribution from Russ Smith (5-12 overall and 3-3 from long range), who shoots just 35.7% overall and 29.9% from long range on the year, so you can expect him not to have the same results in this one. Despite the good shooting vs the Lobos the Cardinals are still 222nd in FG (42.5%) and 289th in three point shooting (31.3%), and in their last 12 games they have shot 40.4% or lower in 9 of those games and less than 35% in 5 of those games.That will not get it done vs a Spartans team that doesn't get enough credit for their defense. The Spartans are 17th in the nation in points allowed (59.4 ppg) and 3rd in the nation in defensive FG% (37.9%), plus they are 12th at defending the three ball (29.6%). The big edge in this game comes in on the offensive end of the floor where the Spartans are 70th in scoring (72.4 ppg) and 15th in FG% (48.2 %). Louisville can't come close to numbers like that. Louisville also goes only 6 deep so if they get into foul trouble trying to defend Green they will be in trouble. Both defenses are nearly equal, but MSU gets a big edge on offense and a solid edge in depth and they should wear down the Cardinals in this one to a comfortable win.
Free Picks: Louisville vs Michigan State Bettinghttp://PregameVideos.com - Louisville is on 6-0 ATS run and Michigan State has a deeper bench plus other factors college basketball bettors need to know about Louisville vs Michigan State (Thursday, March 22, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Scott Spreitzer and analysis from host Vegas Runner.