(3) Michigan State vs. (6) Memphis
(3) Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans came into their opening round game knowing that the Crusaders relied heavily on Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk and that they had a strength advantage in the interior. They proceeded to hold Broekhoff and Van Wijk to a combined 2-17 shooting from the field and receive a huge double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds from Derrick Nix as they defeated the Crusaders 65-54. The only real blemish for the Spartans was their 17 turnovers. Otherwise they shot over 40 percent from the field and the arc; of their 26 made field goals, 16 were assisted. They thoroughly dominated the Crusaders on the glass and should look to do the same against the Tigers in the Round of 32. For the Spartans to advance to the Sweet 16 they’ll have to prevent Joe Jackson from comfortably running the Tigers’ offense. If they can slow him down and get another dominant performance from one of their big men, they should be able to survive and advance.
(6) Memphis Tigers
It wasn’t easy and it came down to the wire, but the Tigers were finally able to win their first NCAA Tournament game under head coach Josh Pastner. Joe Jackson was great all around, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Adonis Thomas was solid as well with 12, but D.J. Stephens really changed the game with his eight blocks. The Tigers had 12 as a team as they survived a late run from the Gaels en route to a 54-52 victory. Tarik Black came off of the bench to give them 29 solid minutes, shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field while also grabbing seven rebounds, tallying two steals and blocking a shot. The Tigers have a tough Round of 32 match up against Michigan State. The last time they faced an opponent of their caliber was back on Dec. 15 against Louisville. The Tigers are going to have to gang rebound and improve upon their offensive efficiency. They missed 59.2 percent of their attempts from the field and half of their 18 free throw attempts. That won’t get it done against the Spartans.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Michigan State. The Spartans will slow down Joe Jackson, win the battle of the boards and move onto the Sweet 16.