The Michigan State Spartans have survived every challenge here in the dance, and now, they are going to have to deal with the Big East champs in the Sweet 16 when they take on the Louisville Cardinals.
The Cardinals didn’t have the greatest end of the regular season in the world, but just like the Connecticut Huskies did last year, they are trying to come all the way through the Big East Tournament and then in the NCAA Tournament as well. The team has won six in a row both SU and ATS, and it is now the only team in the Big East with 20 covers on the campaign. The defense has been the real difference the whole way for Louisville. This team is allowing just 61.1 points per game on the campaign, and it ranks No. 2 in the country in opposing field goal percentage at just 37.9 percent. The Cards have only allowed more than 62 points once in the last month, and that came in an 84-71 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles in the quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden. Gorgui Dieng has had a massive tournament on the defensive end of the court, blocking five shots already and coming up with 17 boards. He has had some foul trouble though, and that can’t be the case if the Cardinals are going to pull off the upset.
Many thought that the Spartans could have been on upset alert in the first two rounds of the dance, but the team was able to get through those duels. It wasn’t always easy, because Sparty struggled with the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds for a little while before finally putting them away, and then it had all sorts of troubles with the Saint Louis Billikens in the second round. That being said, this is a team that has a lot of potential and a head coach in Tom Izzo that knows how to win the whole enchilada. Draymond Green has had a fantastic senior season, averaging 16.3 points, 10.4 boards, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game, but he has come up even stronger in the dance. Green had a triple-double against LIU Brooklyn in the first round, and he followed that up with 16 points, 13 boards, and six assists against the Billikens. Keith Appling is averaging 11.5 points per game on the year, and his 19 points against Saint Louis is probably all that kept the Spartans’ season alive.
The Final Word: Louisville has had a great run in this tourney, but it is going to come to a close in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals are going to be able to keep this game close for quite some time, but in the end, Michigan State is more and more dangerous the deeper that the tourney goes on. The Spartans could be for real at this point.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick: Michigan State Spartans -4.5
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.