NCAA Tournament 2012 Predictions: Saint Louis Billikens vs. Michigan State Spartans

No. 9 Saint Louis Billikens vs. No. 1 Michigan State Spartans
Sunday, 3/18/12, 2:45 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan State -6
Current Betting Line:  Michigan State -7
Opening Total:  123
Current Total:  123
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Michigan State Spartans are favored to move past the Saint Louis Billikens on Sunday

Saint Louis registered a 61-54 win over the Memphis Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as three-point underdogs, notching the program’s first such win since the 1997-98 season.  Billikens head coach Rick Majerus moved to 11-1 in leading his team in the first game of the Big Dance, as his squad is one of the best defensive units in the country.  “It’s a fun defense,” commented Billikens senior center Brian Conklin.  “We love playing defense like that.”  Saint Louis is 3-0 ATS as an underdog this year.

The Billikens have never advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and are 4-7 all-time in the event.  Conklin is certainly a player to watch in being named first-team All-Conference, averaging a team-high 14.0 points per game and shooting 52.7 percent from the field.  Saint Louis ranked eight in the country in surrendering 57.5 points per game, while the offense was sixth in the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 45.2 percent of its shots from the floor.

Michigan State advanced to the third round in picking up an 89-67 win over LIU Brooklyn as 19-point favorites, which served as the team’s fourth consecutive cover against the Las Vegas number.  The Spartans are led by Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green, who averages 16.3 points and 10.4 rebounds.  He scored 24 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the second round on Friday night.  Since the Big Dance expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the program has tallied an 11-4 record in round of 32 games.  Michigan State is 17-9 ATS as a favorite this year.

The Spartans offense has come alive in the postseason during three games in the Big Ten Tournament and its first contest in this event.  Michigan State is averaging 78.5 points and shooting 54.3 percent from the field, including 45.6 percent from beyond the arc over that span.  Michigan State’s 89 points were the most by any team through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  The program is 7-3 when playing in tournament games within the state of Ohio.

Bettors will likely back the Billikens due to their 6-0 ATS mark when playing on Sundays, while the Spartans are 3-7 ATS as neutral site favorites.

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