Saint Louis vs. Michigan State Preview

Preview from The University News

After beating Memphis 61-54 last night in the round of 64, the Billikens advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament to take on Michigan St.  SLU holds the 9-seed in the West Region while Michigan St. holds the 1-seed.  The Spartans beat Long Island-Brooklyn last night 89-67 in an easy 1-over-16 matchup at Nationwide Arena. 

The Saint Louis vs. Michigan St. game will take place Sunday at approximately 1:45 p.m. central time, broadcast live on CBS.

The Scoop on Michigan State:

The Spartans won the Big Ten conference this year in both the regular season and the conference tournament, finishing with a 27-7 record.  They finished the season particularly strong, winning 11 of their last 13 matchups, including two wins each over Ohio State and Wisconsin.  They are led by forward Dreymond Green, a 6-7 senior who averages 16.3 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.  Green had a triple-double in Friday’s first round game against LIU-Brooklyn, only the eighth triple-double in NCAA Tournament history.

Common opponents:

Texas Southern – Michigan State beat Texas Southern 76-41 in November, while SLU beat Texas Southern 71-39 in December.

How will SLU win

Similar to the Memphis game, SLU’s primary goal will be to slow the pace and stop the Spartan’s star player.  The game plan for beating Michigan State is two-fold.  First, they must slow the Spartans down they way they did against Memphis.  For example, Illinois beat Michigan St. by holding them to just 41 points earlier this season.  They’ll have to pay close attention to transition coverage and defensive rebounds.  Second, they’ll have to contain Draymond Green, one of the nation’s most dynamic players.  Green was the Big Ten Player of the Year, averages a double-double, and has a history of catching fire in March.  Just like they slowed down Memphis’ Will Barton, SLU will have to use a variety of players to bottle up Green.

How will Michigan State win

In Friday’s match against LIU-Brooklyn, Michigan St. scored 89 points, the most of any tournament game so far.  But more importantly, they scored a remarkable 62 points in the paint.  The Spartans have a significant height advantage over SLU, particularly with 6-10 Adreian Payne at center, and his backups, 6-9 Derrick Nix and 6-9 Alex Gauna.  If SLU is able to slow the pace, watch for Michigan St. to pound the ball inside and try to wear down Rob Loe and Brian Conklin.  And if the pace is fast, the Michigan St. guards know how to run.  Either way, Draymond Green can handle just about any pace.  If Green has a solid game, it will be very hard for SLU to make it close.

Magic Number: 68

The magic number for the SLU defense in 68.  During the regular season, the Billikens were 24-2 and when holding their opponent to 68 points or less.  But SLU was 1-5 in games where the opponent scored more than 68 points.  It will take work to keep Michigan St. below the magic number, as the Spartans average 72.6 points per game.  Michigan St. was held under 68 points eight times this season.

Key Matchup: Kwamain Mitchell vs. Keith Appling

The point guard matchup will have major implications on this game, for a number of different reasons.  This matchup will determine the pace of the game: can Mitchell and the Billikens slow it down or with Appling’s Spartans keep a fast pace?  Offensively, Michigan St. head coach Tom Izzo considers Mitchell the Billiken’s biggest threat, and says he has worked with Appling on trying to contain him at the point.  And defensively, this matchup could set the tone on how SLU guards Green, and if Appling is able to pick up the slack if the Spartans’ best player is guarded well.

Statistical Matchup:

Points per game                   SLU – 69.2                72.6 – MSU
Field goal pct                        SLU – 45.2%             48.0% – MSU
3-pt pct                                   SLU – 36.2%             36.5% – MSU
Rebounds per game           SLU – 32.8                38.1 – MSU
Turnovers                             SLU – 11.2                 13.0 – MSU



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