West Bracket – Billikens vs Spartans Handicapping Pick
The Michigan State Spartans survived the upset bug that bit two No. 2 seeds and advanced to the third round of the West Regional’s on Saturday where they will face a St. Louis Billikens squad which rode its stingy defense to a 61-54 victory upset over Memphis on Friday night.
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(9) St. Louis (26-7, A 10) vs. (1) Michigan State (28-7, Big Ten)
Date/Time: 2:45 PM ET, Sunday, March 18, 2012
Venue: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
The No. 8 Tigers had won seven straight coming into Friday’s contest, but St. Louis’ Kwamain Mitchell uncorked going off for 22 points, including three big 3-pointers as the Billikens roared from behind to win their first NCAA tourney game since 1998.
However, the real story was St.Louis’ ability to shut down a Memphis team that was averaging more than 75 points per game. It was a good thing too, as the Billikens committed 17 turnovers but made up for it by holding Memphis to 38.9 percent from the field.
But let’s face it, even though the Tigers came in as the favorite–bigger, stronger, deeper, more athletic and had more NCAA experience–the Billikens, who have built their team around defense, entered the contest having held 10 opponents to 50 or fewer points and three under 40.
So it shouldn’t have been to surprising that they were able to stymie the Tigers.
However, the real test will come on Sunday when the will face Michigan State’s Draymond Green, who became just the third player to record multiple triple-doubles in the NCAA tournament, as Tom Izzo’s Spartans cruised to an 89-67 win over LIU Brooklyn on Friday.
Green had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assist while Michigan State shot 58.8 percent (40 for 68) from the field and finished with a substantial 42-19 rebounding advantage.
Defensively the Spartans held Brooklyn to just 22-of-50 from the floor and dominated inside, scoring 62 of their 89 points in the paint. It marked the second time that the Spartans scored 60+ paint points this season and was the most paint points in a game over the last three Men’s Basketball Championships.
It’s no wonder Izzo’s Spartan are favored by the experts to make another Final Four appearance this season.
Prediction- MSU- The Billikens played well against the Tigers, but they have yet to encounter a player like Green who not only puts up his own outrageous stats, but is able to get other players involved as well. Spreading the ball and the St. Louis defenders.