Michigan State has reached the sweet sixteen in 10 of the last 15 years. Tom Izzo is Mr. March as every player he’s recruited that has stayed in East Lansing all four years has reached at least one Final Four. Remember that whenever you fill out your brackets in future years.
The Big Ten is 9-2 in the tourney so far and comprises one fourth of the sweet sixteen. Purdue was inches away from possibly making it five teams, and 10-1. So remember that next New Year’s Day when the Big Ten gets destroyed by the SEC in bowl games. It’s the best college basketball conference this year, not the best college football conference. (That’s the SEC almost every year)
How MSU got here:
The blowout win over LIU was typical #1 vs. #16 match-up. The second round win over Saint Louis was a nail-biter. An ugly, sloggy win.
Draymond Green, coming off his big triple double Friday night against LIU had a double double in that game. And he made CLUTCH plays on both ends of the court around the to minute mark to give Spartans fans some breathing room. He hit a very long two to put State up 55-51, and then blocked SLU’s attempt at an inside bucket on the other end. Green’s 22nd double-double today (16 points, 13 rebounds) surpassed Kevin Jones of West Virginia, to rank second in all of college basketball.
Keith Appling’s (who led State with 19 points) 24 foot trey made it 58-51, with just over a minute to play. And that was essentially THE DAGGER as MSU won 65-61
In terms of comparing Green to a current NBA player, he is a mix between DeJuan Blair and Boris Diaw. Like Green, Blair is a 6-7 big body who knows how to use his size and strength inside and on the boards. Mix in a little bit of Diaw who is a jack of all trades type of player who can impact in a game in many ways and is a more versatile player than Blair; and Green falls somewhere in the middle.
How Louisville got here:
They got a tough battle with Davidson of sorts in the first round, beating the mid-major 69-62. And then in the next game they held off enabler of rape Steve Alford and his New Mexico Lobos 59-56. They endured an off game by their star Peyton Siva to survive and advance. Held scoreless in the first half, Siva finished with six points and five assists.
And we all endured seeing the tv shots of Siva’s dad in his kid’s jersey during the Big East Tournament. The “fat guy in a little coat” bit works really well in a basketball jersey too. And that Big East Tourney run is exactly what the Cards need to get their confidence and momentum rolling. Rick Pitino has guided the Cardinals into their first sweet sixteen since 2009.
With Pitino versus Tom Izzo, not to mention these two strong programs going at it, this promises to be a special one.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports