NCAA basketball on Friday night and we will see the Michigan State Spartans take on the Virginia Cavaliers in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, which is being played at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game has a start time of 9:55 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on TBS. Vegas odds have the Spartans listed as 2 point favorites, while the total sits at 127.
Stat Pack: The Michigan State Spartans beat the Delaware Blue Hens and the Harvard Crimson to move on to the Sweet 16. The wins now have the Spartans at 28-8 on the year. Michigan comes in averaging 76.5 ppg, which is 47th in the nation. This is a good shooting team, as they rank 24th in FG% overall (47.7%) and 17th in 3 point shooting (39.3%), but they do struggle at the FT line, hitting just 70.4% of their freebies to rank 164th. Gary Harris leads the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg, while Adreian Payne is second at 16.6 ppg. Keith Appling (11.7 ppg) and Branden Dawson (11.0 ppg) round out the double digit scorers on the team, while Dawson leads them in rebounding (8.4 rpg). Defensively this is a solid team that allows just 65.9 ppg (67th) on just 39.9% shooting (25th).
The Virginia Cavaliers took care of Coastal Carolina and Memphis to reach the Sweet 16. The wins now have the Cavs at 30-6 on the year and that includes a perfect 8-0 on neutral courts. The Cavs are led by an amazing defense that ranks 1st in the nation in points allowed (55.5 ppg), 9th in defensive FG% overall (38.7%) and 69th in 3 point defense (32.2%). Offensively this is not a very good team as they rank 285th in scoring (66.4 ppg), but they are a decent shooting team, hitting 45.7% of their shots overall (96th) and 36.9% of their shots from long range (72nd). They are 264th in free throw shooting (67.2%). The offense is led by Malcolm Brogdon, who averages 12.6 ppg, while long range shooter, Joe Harris, scores 11.8 ppg. They are the only 2 to average in double figures for the Cavs.
Pick: Going with the Spartans in this one. Michigan State has been one of my picks to make it to the Final 4. In fact I had them playing Louisville for the Title in my bracket. This team is playing very well right now, especially that they are healthy. The Cavs play solid defense, but Michigan State has been scoring plenty this year and I see them breaking down this defense. They will push the ball in transition so they don't have to face the Virginia half court defense, which has been very stingy this year. Michigan State can all play some defense as they have allowed just 65.9 ppg on 39.9 % shooting for the year. They have allowed 78 and 73 points in the tournament so far, but Virginia's 285th scoring offense just won't be able to take advantage of that. Bottom line here is that Virginia just won't come up with enough points to keep this one close. Michigan State is the superior team here and they will prove it on the court as they pick up a win of at least 8 points.
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