Kansas is next up on the schedule and it's a familiar foe for the Spartans. Michigan State has won three of the last four meetings, including a 79-73 win in the last meeting, November 17, 2015, at the Champions Classic in Chicago.
The win came a year after the Spartans suffered a shocking first-round NCAA Tournament loss as a No. 2 seed, and after they trailed 17-5 early in the game. It's the fourth time they've met in the past five years, and MSU has won four of the past five meetings. Miles Bridges scored 18 points and led Michigan State with nine rebounds. Then Evans three hit to swing the outcome against the spread in favor of Oklahoma State, which was a very good thing for sportsbooks.
But they haven't had a typical Michigan State season. For that to happen they'll need to accomplish these three things: get off to a fast start, contain Kansas leading-scorer Frank Mason, and take advantage of Jayhawk turnovers. It looks like their best bet to score enough to win is to shoot a bunch of threes and hope.
Miami has lost three of its last four entering the tournament to fall to 21-11 on the season. They can't afford that kind of performance against a much better Kansas team. The Cowboys floor general is a versatile and high basketball IQ backcourt stud who has scored 20 or more points in three straight games and executed this feat 14 times this season. So playing catch up against team like this is not an option. Seventh-seeded U-of-M will play second-seeded Louisville in the second round on Sunday, as the Cardinals eliminated Jacksonville State 78-63.
Ward has played fewer than half the team's minutes this year, but he has made them count. Michigan State will have their hands full with guarding him on Sunday. He also dishes out 12 assists and pulling down seven rebounds.
Kansas versus Michigan State could've been a predictable Final Four matchup in past seasons.
There's no secret what MI is going to do late in a game with a lead: run the clock and give Derrick Walton the ball and let him make a play. As soon as Bridges got going against Miami, Michigan State's offense was unstoppable. Both of those guys are fast guards just like Mason, and both are solid defensively. I think in Kansas they thought it was - there was no malfunction and everything was handled perfectly in Kansas, and I'm sure in the state of MI they thought totally otherwise. The remaining eight games for the round of 32 will be played tomorrow. They do that and they'll have a chance.
"After that first seven or eight minutes, I thought we played some of the best basketball we've played, not only this year but in a couple of years, Izzo said". That's a lot of turnovers.
Series History:Michigan State leads the all-time series 7-5 and won the most recent matchup between the two teams 79-73 in 2015. Walton made two free throws with 10 seconds left to provide a four-point edge. The Jayhawks are too talented and too deep for Michigan State.
Despite the highly-acclaimed freshman class for MSU men's basketball, just a year ago, it nearly added had another top prospect in Kansas' Josh Jackson. The Spartans trailed by 12 points early, but used a massive run in the first half to take control of the game.
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Bettors should not be surprised to see a similar result here, as the Tar Heels are too talented to let the Razorbacks hang around. The Tar Heels (28-7) led by 25 points at halftime, and cruised to their third biggest margin of victory in tournament history.
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