Michigan State (19-14) vs Miami FL (21-11)
When: Friday, March 17th 2017
Where: BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
Time: 9:20 ET | TV: TNT
The Michigan State Spartans will make their 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance when they meet the Miami Hurricanes on Friday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This will be an 8 vs. 9 matchup which means the winner gets the task of trying to beat Kansas on Sunday, unless the Jayhawks get upset by UC Davis. The young Michigan State team had its share of growing pains as it relies on a quartet of freshmen, led by forward Miles Bridges, the team’s leading scorer (16.7 points) and rebounder (8.3 rebounds). Forward Nick Ward is an undersized force inside (13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds) at 6’8″. Both must avoid foul trouble as the Spartan’s frontcourt has very little depth. Michigan State ranked next-to-last in the Big Ten in turnover margin at -3.2 and will have their hands full against a solid Miami defense. Point guard Cassius Winston (5.1 assists) has been doing a better job lately by not turning the ball over. He has committed just seven turnovers over the last six games and fellow guard Tum Tum Nairn has turned it over in the last two contests. Head coach Tom Izzo has never had back-to-back teams lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans lost to Middle Tennessee State 90-81 in the first round last year.
The Hurricanes come in having lost three of their last four including a quarterfinals loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. Miami is one of the better defensive teams in the country, holding opponents to 63.7 points per game, but the Hurricanes struggle to score at times. They have not reached 65 points in their last six games. Senior guard Davon Reed averages 15.0 points to lead the offensive, with nearly half his baskets coming from 3-point range, while guard Ja’Quan Newton adds 13.4 points. Miami ranked last in the ACC in assists per game (11.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9). Bruce Brown is the only other player averaging in double-digits, but has been inconsistent all season. He scored a season-high 25 against Duke on February 25th and 21 against the Tar Heels last week, but sandwiched that with 23 total points in three games. Miami has wins this season against North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia.
Izzo seems to pull off magic when it comes to tournament time, but his luck ran out last year against Middle Tennessee State and this team is very young. Miami isn’t the greatest team either, but I think they have enough experience and talent to advance to the next round.
Pick: Miami FL -2.5
HEAD TO HEAD
|No trends available.|
Trends courtesy of SportsOptions.com – an UltimateCapper.com partner