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Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Michigan St. Spartans NCAA Basketball Preview & Free Pick

Midwest Region: Crusaders vs Spartans

While the Madness technically gets started Tuesday night now with the Opening Round (Play-In) games, the true start of the tournament is Thursday afternoon. The first game everyone will tune in to is Valparaiso and Michigan State in the Midwest Region.

2013 NCAA Tournament Preview
Midwest Region
#14- Valparaiso Crusaders (26-7) vs. #3- Michigan State Spartans (25-8)
Date/Time: March 21, 2013- 12:15 pm EST
TV: CBS
NCAA Basketball Betting Odds from Bovada
Favorite: Michigan State -10.5
Total: 126.5

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Tom Izzo’s teams have made noise in the NCAA Tournament for quite a few years in a row.

Can they get past the Crusaders in their opening game?

Valparaiso

The Crusaders come in here with a lineup full of veterans who are looking to leave a mark on this year’s NCAA Tournament. Not only is Valparaiso the most experienced team in the NCAA Tournament field, but they were also the most experienced team out of all 347 Division I teams in college basketball this year.

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Every major contributor on this team is either a junior or senior, which certainly gives them reason to believe that they can stay calm in what will be a very difficult situation against the Spartans from the Big Ten.

Ryan Broekhoff leads the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game. He’ll have to have a big game for Valparaiso to have any chance in this one. He’ll need to drag Michigan State’s bigs away from the hoop. Point Guard Erik Buggs is only 5’11, but he is great at penetrating and kicking it out to the open shooter.

The Crusaders will likely shoot a lot of long range shots, so they’ll need to knock them down. [ad-6571516]

Michigan State

It’s certainly not a coincidence that Tom Izzo has been to the Final Four six times. Coach Izzo knows how to win in March. Michigan State always looks shaky at the beginning of the season, but the Spartans round into form around this time of the year. This year’s Michigan State team has struggled with turnovers in the backcourt at times, but they are extremely strong in the frontcourt.

Adreian Payne is a 6’10 center who shoots an amazing 45.5 percent from three-point range. Payne also leads the team in rebounding and blocked shots. He is the key to the frontcourt. Derrick Nix is the bruiser in the low post, and his low post game is coming along nicely.

One of the biggest reasons this year’s Spartans team has been able to improve so much throughout the year has been the maturing of freshman guard Gary Harris. Harris has contributed more than just about anyone expected right off the bat. He averages 13 points per game and shoots 41 percent from beyond the arc.

The Spartans are solid defensively as they always seem to be.

Free Pick: Valparaiso +10.5

Michigan State is a very solid team, but they aren’t terrific offensively. Valparaiso should have the talent and leadership to stick around for quite a while in this one.

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