Pressure GreenThe key to beating Michigan State is Draymond Green, the Big 10 Player of the Year and the most multi-dimensional forward in the nation. Green is going to get his points and boards. Even in Michigan Stats's seven defeats this season, Green averaged nearly 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Here's a dirty little secret to beating Tom Izzo's top-seeded Spartans: Force Green, Michigan State's top offensive facilitator, to turn the basketball over. The stats prove the point beyond reasonable doubt - in 6 of Michigan State's 7 losses, Green had more turnovers than assists. In Michigan State's seven defeats, Green had 16 assists and 33 turnovers. For the season, Green has 139 assists and 106 turnovers.
No EdgeMichigan State has been vulnerable away from the Breslin Center this season, going 12-6 on the road and neutral sites. Louisville is 12-5 in away/neutral games this season. The Cards, however, have won six straight away from home - four in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden and both NCAA Tournament games at the Rose Center in Portland.
'D' UpWhen Michigan State shoots better than 50 percent from the floor they're unbeaten, 16-0, this season. When the Spartans shoot less than 50 percent from the field, they're just 13-7. Only Providence shot 50 percent or better against Louisville this season. Louisville has held 14 of its last 24 opponents under 40 percent, including five of the last six foes in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.
Michigan State was 1-4 when they scored less than 60 points this season. Louisville has held 22 opponents to 60 or fewer points this season, including 8 of the last 12 teams they've faced. Louisville held No. 1 Syracuse under 60 points in both meetings, while holding Cincinnati, who also advanced to the Sweet 16, to only 44 points in the Big East championship game. Louisville is 5-5 this season when scoring fewer than 60 points.
Force/Limit TurnoversMichigan State is just 13-7 this season when they commit more turnovers than their opponent. The Spartans are 12-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their foes. Louisville has committed fewer turnovers than opponents in 7 of the past 12 games. Louisville is seventh nationally in steals with 9 per contest. The Cardinals forced their opponents to commit 15 or more turnovers in six of their past 12 games.
Close DecisionsIn games decided by 1-5 points, the Spartans are 4-4. Louisville is 5-4 in games decided by five point or less. If it's a close game in final minutes, free throw shooting could be a decisive factor.
Michigan State is 70 percent this season at the foul line, but shot below that mark in their last three games. Five of MSU's last six foes attempted more free throws than the Spartans.
Though suspect free throw shooting cost Louisville a few games earlier in the season, the Cardinals shot nearly 69 percent this season at the free throw line. Pitino's squad has been much improved lately at the free throw line, making over 70 percent of their foul shots in seven of the past nine games, including 91 percent against Cincinnati (10-11) in the Big East finals and 81 percent against Marquette (21-26). The Cards have attempted more foul shots than their opponents in 9 of the last 12 games.