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NCAA Basketball Picks Connecticut Huskies vs Michigan State Spartans

NCAA basketball on Sunday afternoon and we will see the Connecticut Huskies take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, which is being played at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game has a start time of 2:20 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on CBS. Vegas odds have the Spartans listed as 5.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 139.

Stat Pack: The Connecticut Huskies took out St Joes, Villanova an Iowa State to reach the Elite 8. The wins now have the Huskies at 29-8 on the year and that includes a 9-1 mark on neutral courts for the year. The Huskies average a decent 72.7 ppg (118th) on 45.0% shooting (133rd). They rank 16th in 3 pt shooting (39.4%) and 6th in free throw shooting (76.9%). Shabazz Napier is the leader of this team as he averages 17.9 ppg, while also leading the team in assists (4.9) and rebounding (5.9). Just 5 players on the team average 6.5 ppg or more, so this is not a very deep team. DeAndre Daniels (13.0 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (12.1 ppg) are the only other DD scorers on the team. Defensively this is a very solid team that ranks 40th in points allowed (64.0 ppg) and 13th in defensive FG% (39.2%).

The Michigan State Spartans beat the Delaware Blue Hens, Harvard Crimson and Virginia Cavaliers to move on to the Elite 8. The wins now have the Spartans at 29-8 on the year and they are also 9-1 on neutral courts this year. Michigan State comes in averaging 76.1 ppg, which is 47th in the nation. This is a good shooting team, as they rank 26th in FG% overall (47.6%) and 18th in 3 point shooting (39.3%), but they do struggle at the FT line, hitting just 70.6% of their freebies to rank 159th. Gary Harris leads the team in scoring at 16.6 ppg, while Adreian Payne is second at 16.5 ppg. Keith Appling (11.4 ppg) and Branden Dawson (11.4 ppg) round out the double digit scorers on the team, while Dawson leads them in rebounding (8.3 rpg). Defensively this is a solid team that allows just 65.7 ppg (65th) on just 39.89% shooting (22nd).

Pick:  I will go with the under in this one. Just can't see it coming all that close to 140 points. The UConn/ ISU games should have stayed way under the total, mainly because UConn did not run and i expect them to really slow the pace here as well. This is the Elite 8 and the winner has a chance to go to the Final 4.Saturday showed that teams seem not likely to run as much and I don't see the Huskies doing that here. They will look to rely on a defense that has been pretty stingy all year and has allowed just 67.3 ppg on neutral courts this year. The Spartans have also been solid on defense as they have allowed 68 ppg on neutral courts and just 65.7 ppg overall. The Spartans will look to run, but UConn didn't let a powerful ISU offense run and they wont allow Sparty to do so here either. UConn does not want a shootout. I see this one in the lower 130s at best.    

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