2015 NCAA Tournament
East Regional Final
#4 Louisville Cardinals vs #7 Michigan State Spartans
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, New York
Sunday, March 29, 2015, 2:20 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Michigan State -2
Current Line: Michigan State-2 1/2 (-105)
Opening Total: 128 1/2
Current Total: 128
Opening Money Line: Michigan State -140 / Louisville +120
Current Money Line: Michigan State -145 / Louisville +125
In the other 3 regions, the seeds pretty much held up until the Elite 8 and beyond with three #1 seeds, two #2 seeds and a #3 seed. The #1 seeds Kentucky and Wisconsin advanced to the Final Four Saturday out of the Midwest and West regions respectively. In the South, #1 Duke take on #2 Gonzaga.
That hasn’t been the case in the East as the #4 27-8 Louisville Cardinals take on the #7 26-11 Michigan State Spartans Sunday in Syracuse. Still, we have a battle of college basketball coaching titans with Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. The winner between Louisville and Michigan State will face either Duke or Gonzaga in the Final Four next week in Indianapolis.
Louisville leads the series 5-3 against Michigan State. The Cardinals won the last meeting 57-44 in the 2012 Sweet 16. This is the third time since 2009 that Louisville and Michigan State have played in the Tournament.
Michigan State went 12-6 in the Big Ten and were part of a three way tie for third. The Spartans lost to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Michigan State was seeded #7 in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans beat #10 Georgia 70-63 in the second round and upset #2 Virginia 60-54 in the third round, both in Charlotte. The Spartans beat #3 seed Oklahoma 62-58 in the Sweet 16 Friday night. The Spartans won despite a sluggish start that Izzo half-jokingly blamed on a team outing to see the new movie comedy Get Hard that afternoon. Michigan State is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time and 18th straight. The Spartans have made 13 Elite 8 trips including 9 under Izzo. The Spartans are looking for a seventh Final Four trip in the last 16 seasons, the last in 2010. MSU went 10-8 against Tournament teams this season.
Louisville finished fourth in the ACC at 12-6. Louisville lost to North Carolina 70-60 in the ACC quarterfinals. The #4 seed Cardinals escaped with a 57-55 win over #13 seed UC-Irvine in the second round and beat #5 Northern Iowa 66-53 in the third round in Seattle. The Cardinals pulled away late for a 75-65 win over #8 NC State in the Sweet 16 Friday. Louisville is playing in their 41st NCAA Tournament with 3 national titles. This is the 14th trip to the Elite 8 for the Cardinals. Louisville is looking for their 11th trip to the Final Four including three in four years. The Cardinals are 7-7 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.
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Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have neutral site losses to Duke in Indianapolis, Kansas in a tournament in Orlando, and Wisconsin in Chicago. Michigan State has road losses at Notre Dame, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin, along with home losses to Texas Southern, Maryland, Illinois and Minnesota. The Spartans have home wins over Santa Clara, Oakland, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue, neutral site wins over Rider and Marquette in Orlando, Ohio State and Maryland in Chicago, along with road wins over Navy, Iowa, Rutgers, Northwestern, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Michigan State is 21-16 ATS and the total is 19-15-2 this season. The Spartans were 1 point favorites against Oklahoma and the total was 137.
Louisville is coached by Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have home losses to Kentucky, Duke, NC State, and Notre Dame, road losses to North Carolina, Virginia, and Syracuse plus a neutral site loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Louisville has neutral site wins over Minnesota in Puerto Rico and Indiana at Madison Square Garden, home wins over Marshall, Cleveland State, Ohio State, Florida International, CS-Northridge, Long Beach State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Virginia, plus road wins over Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Pitt, Boston College, Miami, Georgia Tech and Florida State. Louisville is 13-19-2 ATS and the total is 13-17-1 this season. The Cardinals were 2.5 point favorites against North Carolina State and the total was 129.
Michigan State is outscoring teams 73-62 this season. The Spartans are shooting 47.4% from the field including 39.3% from 3 point range. Michigan State is #30 or better nationally in both categories. The Spartans are #329 in free throw shooting out of 353 teams at 63.6% from the line. Opponents are looking 38.9% from the field and 30.3% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #25 or better in both categories. MSU averages 38.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.1. The Spartans are #27 or better in both categories. Michigan State averages 17.3 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.2 assists, 11 turnovers, 5.9 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
MSU guard Denzel Valentine averages 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. He is probable with an ankle injury. Travis Trice averages 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds 5.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Brandon Dawson averages 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Bryn Forbes averages 8.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Matt Costello averages 7.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Gavin Schilling averages 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Marvin Clark, Jr., Javon Bess and Lourawls Nairn, Jr. will also get minutes in the rotation. Bess is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
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Louisville is outscoring teams 69-60 this season. The Cardinals are #20 nationally in points allowed. Louisville shoots 42.9% from the field and 30.4% from 3 point range. The Cardinls are #312 out of 353 teams in three point shooting nationally. Louisville makes 68.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 38.8% from the field and 29.3% from 3 point range. The Cardinals are in the top 20 nationally in both categories. Louisville averages 38.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 33.1 per game. The Cardinals are #22 nationally in rebounds but #303 in rebounds allowed. Louisville averages 11.7 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 5.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.7 assists 14.5 turnovers, 6 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.
Terry Rozier averages 17.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2 steals per game. Montrezl Harrell averages 15.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1 steal and 1.2 blocks per game. Guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the team earlier in the season. He averaged 13.7 points, 4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2 steals per game. Wayne Blackshear averages 10.9 points, 4.3 assists, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Three other players will also get significant time in the rotation.
MSU is 4-0 ATS in non-conference games, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 10-4 overall, 7-3 after a straight up win.
Louisville is 4-0-1 ATS against Big Ten teams, 26-10 in neutral site games, 12-5 in Sunday games and in NCAA Tournament games, and 1-5-1 in non-conference games.
As recently as late February, no one outside of the most hardcore Cardinals and Spartans fans would have thought these two teams would be playing for a berth in the Final Four. Pitino and Izzo have done some of the best coaching jobs of their legendary careers. This should be a defensive struggle in the 50’s. Tom Izzo is a remarkable 20-4 in second games of NCAA Tournament sites. I think the Spartans win a rock fight.