MSU hit an amazing buzzer beater to defeat the Maryland Terapins last Sunday to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, Izzo's 9th in 13 years. Sadly, Kalin Lucas was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Delvin Roe is playing on one leg (torn meniscus, also has a bad wrist) and Chris Allen has a strained foot arch. Besides that, everything is peachy. Allen should play a little more this game, Roe will play his usual tough guy minutes and Raymar Morgan's nasty tooth injury won't bother him one bit. This is a battered team, but tough and deep, used to playing in the Big Ten. They also have an elite coach who will have them ready to play.
We all saw what Northern Iowa did last week. Hung around long enough with the best team in the nation, almost blew the game, then hit a gutsy three pointer to win the game. Now, Northern Iowa (notable alum, Kurt Warner) is basically a Big Ten team. They play steady offense, great defense and take timely three pointers. They have a good big man in Jordan Egselder, who at 7 foot 280 pounds, can hang with the Spartan front court. UNI is a mid major, and doesn't have the depth or the overall size MSU has. They obviously can play with anybody, although before the tournament, their non conference schedule wasn't overwhelming. They just locked up their coach Ben Jacobson for the next decade, and Ali Farokmanesh made the cover of Sports Illustrated. They are the darlings of the tourney this year.
The game will come down to this. MSU won't take the Panthers lightly. They know they are dangerous and the Spartans are vulnerable. Izzo has all week to prepare for a Big Ten style team. The Spartans have a lot to prove, and they can feed their big men and get some time from Allen, I think MSU will win. Lucious and Summers has to run the point effectively and keep the ball safe, and anything Allen can do to slow Farokmanesh will be huge. The Spartans are tough and deep, and will go to another Elite 8.
MSU 67 UNI 60