(1) Michigan State vs. (9) Saint Louis Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(1) Michigan State Spartans
After the two major upsets earlier in the day, everyone was clamoring for a 16 seed over a one seed, which would have been the perfect cap to a crazy day in the tournament. While the Blackbirds hung close with the Spartans early, the Big Ten representative eventually pulled away and advanced with an 89-67 victory. Draymond Green showed why he deserves to be considered as one of, if not the, most versatile player in the field. Green recorded his second triple double in the NCAA Tournament with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He joins fellow Spartan Magic Johnson as the only other player to accomplish the feat. The Spartans also got big games from their centers Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. The two combined to score 34 points and grab 15 rebounds. Green, Payne and Nix were the driving forces behind the Spartans winning the battle of the boards by an impressive 23. Getting good looks inside from their frontline will be key for the Spartans against a stingy Saint Louis defense in the Round of 32.
(9) Saint Louis Billikens
As far as NBA talent is concerned, the Bllikens were at a disadvantage against the Tigers. They showed how little that mattered, though, proving that great defense is more important than having intriguing pro prospects. The Billikens slowed down the Tigers’ up tempo attack, holding them to 38 percent shooting from the field and 13 percent from distance as they moved on with a 61-54 victory. Kwamain Mitchell scored 22 for the Billikens, tying a season-high. As a team they shot 47 percent from the floor. With only a day to prepare for the Michigan State Spartans, Billikens head coach Rick Majerus really has to get his team prepared quickly for a much different type of game. The Spartans are going to attack them on the inside far more than the Tigers did. The Billikens will have to combat that properly and make sure that they get the production they need offensively to match the potency of the Spartans.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Michigan State. The Billikens impressed against Memphis, but the Spartans are a different kind of animal and they don’t appear to match up well against them.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!