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Louisville vs. Michigan State West Region Gambling Free Picks & Preview

West Bracket – Cardinals vs Spartans Handicapping Pick

After meeting just once since the turn of the century in a 2009 NCAA tournament regional final showdown, the top-seeded Michigan State Spartans will once again meet up with the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals, this time aiming to exact a little revenge on that 1959 88-81 loss, in Thursday’s West Regional semifinals in the Valley of the Sun.  

Sweet 16
No. 4 Louisville (28-9, Big East) vs. No. 1 Michigan State (29-7, Big Ten)
Date/Time: 7:47 PM ET, Thursday, March 22, 2012
Venue: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Broadcast: TBS
Spread: Michigan State -5
Over/Under: 125.5

Matchup | Preview 

Louisville faced their toughest test of the young tournament yet just one game after eliminating an upset-minded Davidson, outlasting New Mexico in the Round of 32 on Saturday to hang onto a narrow 59-56 victory.

The Cardinals leaned on Russ Smith in this one, as the sophomore guard came off the bench and scored 17 points as Louisville advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.

Smith was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc while Shane Behanan and Kyle Kuric contributed their share offensively with 10 points apiece.

But the story in this one was the Cardinals defense, as they held the Lobos to 39 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent shooting from deep.

The Lobos didn’t go quietly however, as big man Drew Gordon had 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead a late New Mexico run to make things interesting.

New Mexico outrebounded the Cardinals by 11, something that Louisville will need to improve against a Michigan State team that has even more size and talent up front. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

Particularly from 6-11 forward senior All-American Draymond Green whose second-half heroics lifted the Spartans to a 66-61 third round win over No. 9 seed Saint Louis on Sunday.

The Billikens nearly outplayed the Spartans down the stretch, scoring 40 second-half points, but after putting up a triple-double in his last game, Green stepped up big when his team needed it the most, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Sophomore guard Keith Appling also made key contributions to the win, with a team-best 19 points on 14 shots.

Much like the Cardinals, the Spartans’ defense was a key factor in their success in keeping their winning streak intact and moving, setting up two teams that rank in the top three in field-goal percentage defense to do battle in the Sweet Sixteen.

Prediction- Michigan State– The Cardinals’ young bigs will have to be at their best in order stop Green. And while they have more size and length inside than St. Louis did, I expect the Spartans to dominate on the frontline. Besides, Green is a man on a mission and that’s just too hard to bet against.

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