#5. Michigan St. Spartans (25-8overall)
#4 Maryland Terrapins (24-8overall)
Sunday 3/21 Spokane, Wa 2:40pm
Last game: MSU: def #12 New Mexico St 70-67 MD: def #13 Houston 89-77
Leading scorer: MSU: Kalin Lucas 15.2 MD: Greivis Vasquez 19.4ppg
PF: MSU: 72.5. MD: 79.6 PA: MSU: 63.8. MD: 67.8
Two of the best basketball programs of this decade match up in the second round of the Midwest region with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen on the line. When the brackets were announced, everyone who is a basketball fan was looking forward to a Michigan St/Maryland showdown. Both teams have hall of fame coaches and talented players and this should be a dog fight with the winner punching their ticket to St.Louis.
Big Ten basketball is often defined by toughness and lack of scoring, which is the type of style that has caused the Terps problems. This Spartans team has been somewhat of an enigma this season and they have not played the style of basketball that has led them to the Final Four numerous times this decade. After starting off the season 9-0 in Big Ten play, the Spartans lost five games and then proceeded to lose their first conference tournament game. In addition to that there have been some uncharacteristic character issues which plagued the team. Starting guard Chris Allen was suspended and Kalin Lucas has been benched after poor shot selection and some spats with Tom Izzo. The Spartans struggled against the style of play of New Mexico St in their first game, but Izzo should have his guys ready when the Terps come calling. The Spartans will need to out rebound the Terps and stop them from running up and down the floor if they want to be in the game. Kalin Lucas will need to be the leader that Izzo has wanted to be this season and run the offense, instead of just looking for is own shot.
The Terps scored 89 points in their first round game against Houston and got stellar games from Jordan Williams(21pts,17rebs) and Landon Milbourne(19pts,7rebs), but they will face a much tougher challenge in the Spartans. While Houston played right into the Terps hands, Michigan St will do the opposite, drawing up tough defense, slow the pace down,and bang on the glass and inside making things much more difficult for the Terps. Outside of Williams, the best sign in the Terps 1st round game was the unselfishness of Greivis Vasquez. Not having his best shooting game, Vasquez recognized this and would often draw the defense and set up his teammates for open shots which they knocked down. The Spartans will undoubtedly focus on stopping Vasquez and I believe he will look for his shot more, however, I do expect him to share the ball and run the offense. This may not be the greatest analysis ever, but knocking down shots will be key for the Terps to get the victory, because unlike Houston, the Spartans can rebound.
As Terps fans we have agonized this entire decade as we watched the Terps look like world beaters one game then lay the proverbial egg the next. The Terps are more then capable of coming out cold against Michigan St and if they fall behind early, we may see them get out of their offense and force shots up. The first five to ten minutes will be the key. Both coaches are legends and will have their teams prepared and focused. How the Terps respond if the shots aren't falling early will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. Sticking to the game plan and running the offense will be key, because I believe the Terps have better shooters and better players then the Spartans. Michigan St. is going to try to ugly things up, and the Terps will need to show they can win games playing that style. If they jump out to a lead, they can exert their will on the Spartans and I don't think the Spartans have the ability to come back and outscore them. Unlike President Obama, I believe both teams have a good coach, and the Terps have the better leader and best player on the floor who doesn't want his career to end just yet. It won't be pretty but I believe this Terps team is on a mission to go to St. Louis and will do whatever it takes to get there. It won't be pretty but the Terps will advance to the Sweet 16. Terps 71, Michigan St. 65.