Thursday, March 23rd
#24 Michigan State Spartans v. #23 Kansas State Wildcats, 5:30 pm, TBS
MaximumSam: Well, here we are. The Big Ten had one team escape the first weekend of the tourney, and it just so happens to be the team with two point guards. Funny how that happens. Anyway, the blistering shooting that helped Sparty late in the season hasn’t been there, but the defense has risen and the twos have fallen, so here they are, no matter how many minutes Carson Cooper gets.
Their opponent is the Wildcats, one of the more surprising teams in the tourney. Universally picked to finish last in the Big 12, KSU and new coach Jerome Tang have been strong all season en route to a three seed in the tourney. It starts with diminutive point guard Markquis Nowell, who torched Kentucky and averages 17 points and 8 assists. He has a great wing in Keyontae Johnson, who you may remember collapsing for Florida two years ago. He’s back and averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 40% from three.
Looking at the stats, Kansas State is a good solid defensive team that will guard the heck out of the three and has playmakers on offense. They do turn the ball over and foul a lot, so Sparty will probably continue to attack the lane. Tyson Walker has been great defensively when he isn’t half the size of the guy he’s guarding - let’s see what he does with Nowell. Torvik sees this as a complete coin flip, but goes with Kansas State 69-68.