No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Michigan State Preview
Where: Bank of Oklahoma Center – Tulsa, OK
When: Sunday, March 19, 2017, 5:15 PM ET
TV Broadcast: CBS
Writer’s Prediction: Michigan State Spartans (+8)
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Betting on the Kansas Jayhawks (-8)
The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks needed some time to warm up against No. 16 UC Davis, but when they did, there was no stopping them. The Jayhawks eventually romped to a 100-68 win over the Aggies, easily covering the 22.5-point spread.
The Kansas offense was purring all night long. The team shot a sizzling 56 percent from the field. All five starters scored in double-figures, and four had at least 16 points. Senior point guard Frank Mason led the way with 22 points and 8 assists. Meanwhile, freshman forward Josh Jackson made quite a return from his suspension as he had 17 points and 7 boards.
The backcourt of Mason and Devonte’ Graham is just about as talented and experienced as they come in college basketball. They should have a significant experience advantage over the freshman-laden Spartans.
Meanwhile, Jackson is set to go up against fellow potential NBA lottery pick Miles Bridges. Jackson’s length could be a big problem for Bridges, who is a massive part of the Spartans offense. If Jackson can slow Bridges down, it’ll be a big win for the Jayhawks.
Betting on the Michigan State Spartans (+8)
Michigan State looked like it was in trouble early on against Miami in the first round. The Spartans were down 19-9 in the first 10 minutes. But they went on a huge 29-8 run to end the first half, and never looked back as they won a 78-58 blowout.
Michigan State’s freshman foursome of Miles Bridges, Nick Ward, Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston was excellent. Bridges and Ward combined for 35 points on 16-of-31 shooting, with 16 rebounds. Langford added 13 points, while Winston had 7 points and 5 assists off the bench.
The Spartans have had big problems with turnovers all season long, but they limited those miscues to just 12 against a very tough Miami backcourt. That performance has to be encouraging ahead of their matchup with arguably the best backcourt in the country.
Bridges gets all the headlines as the team’s most talented player, but Ward could be the team’s X-factor against Kansas. The talented first-year big man has had a strong end to the season, averaging 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds over his last four games. He’ll need to come out on top in his matchup against a very experienced five-year senior in Landen Lucas in order for the Spartans to advance.
Apart from Ward, though, head coach Tom Izzo will also be a big factor. Izzo has owned his matcup with Kansas coach Bill Self. He’s 5-2 (6-1 ATS) in their seven meetings all-time.
Michigan State manages to push Kansas all the way to cover the spread (+8).
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