The Match-Up: 2:20PM #6 Tennessee Volunteers(28-8) vs. #5 Michigan State Spartans(27-8)

When the tournament first started, not many people expected the Volunteers or the Spartans would make it past the 2nd round. One week later, these two teams are facing off for an opportunity to go to Indianapolis to play in the Final Four.Tennessee has had an impressive showing thus far in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols are averaging 73.6 PPG and are holding opponents to 40% shooting from the field and 31% from three-point range. Senior center Wayne Chism has stepped up, averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds per game. The Vols out-rebounded the smallish Buckeyes 36 to 23 in their last. However, Tennessee must step up their efforts on the glass against the best rebounding team in the country.

Michigan State has been excellent on the glass this season. As a team, they are grabbing 39 rebounds per game, posting a 9.0 rebounding margin over opponents. However, losing guard Kalin Lucas(14.8 PPG, 4 APG) is going to hinder the Spartans in this match-up. Lucas suffered a leg injury to Maryland and is out for the reminder of the tournament. In his absence, guards Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious scored 29 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished 6 assists in the win over Northern Iowa. Summers and Lucious must contain the dynamic Volunteers back court of Scotty Hobson and J.P. Prince in order to win.

This game is virtual toss up. Michigan State has the better front of Raymar Morgan, Draymond Green, and Delvon Rowe. Given Lucas’ injury, Tennessee has the slight edge in the back court. The X-factor in this match-up is coaching. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has never been to the Final Four. Since 1998, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has taken the Spartans to five Final Fours.  Izzo will make it six on Sunday. Don’t ever bet against a Tom Izzo-led club in a toss-up game.

Note: Tennessee opened as a 1 point favorite.

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The Pick: Michigan State Spartans (27-8)

Who Will Win This Match Up?

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March Record: 17-10

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