Before I get to the long awaited preview/breakdown of the Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun cage match, just a couple quick hits.
- First - Congrats to Joe Pa U as Penn State defeated Baylor to win the NIT Championship – nice to go out on a win, no matter what.
- Second – What is going on in Arizona? Is there some horrible smell that repels coaches? Something is a little fishy. That said, Tim Floyd is exactly where he needs to be at USC – aka OJ Mayo NBA Prep School.
- Third - I will take any of the coaching openings anywhere in D1 – I will even pay for my own move.
Why UConn Will Win?
The front court of Hasheem Thabeet, Stanley Robinson and Jeff Adrien (7’3″, 6’9″ and 6’7″) is taller, longer and stronger than the MSU bigs of Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, and Raymor Morgan (6’10″, 6’8″ and 6’8″). The Huskies big man will need to add some scoring, but it ultimately comes down to Thabeet’s ability to change shots and keep the MSU guards out of the lane.
Kemba Walker had a break out game with 23 points on 7-for-9 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the foul line in 25 minutes against Missouri. Craig Austrie and A.J. Price are the Huskies only real outside threats, but should be able to get their shots off over the smaller Spartan back court.
For UConn to win, they must win the battle on the block in scoring and not get out rebounded by a Spartans team that crashed the broads very hard.
Why MSU Will Win?
Early in the season, the Spartans were out of sink and struggled to regain their rhythm, and then the hit their stride about the time the Goran Suton returned to 100%. In their win to get the Final Four, Suton had a double-double with 19 and 10, shooting 3-for-5 from deep and dishing out five assists carrying the team to Detroit.
Tom Izzo would love for Morgan to actually play some meaningful minutes, Morgan has been invisible since the first round match-up with Robert Morris. He has only scored 23 points and 10 rebounds all tourney long and played only 10 foul-plagued minutes in the win over Louisville. Roe has not been any better, he has scored only 16 points and grabbed three rebounds all tournament long. He has not had a rebound in the last three games.
Even if Suton is the final piece to the Spartan puzzle, Kalin Lucas is still the most important player in green. Much like Ty Lawson is to UNC, Lucas makes this team go. If Lucas is able to catch fire and still get the ball to other talented shooters, MSU will win.
The benches. The Huskies only three, mostly two deep on their bench with Walker and forward Gavin Edwards. The Spartans easily go four or five off the pine. Expect to see major minutes from guards Chris Allen, Durrell Summers, and forward Draymond Green. Michigan State has better talent coming off the bench.
There are few coaches that prepare their teams better than Izzo (i.e. Louisville) and with a week to prepare, I am feel that Izzo has the team ready to play. I have been doubting Michigan State all tourney and I have a feeling that they are going to win just to spite me and my many brackets that I had them losing to USC.
Michigan State 78, UConn 73.