#5 Michigan St Spartans
#9 Northern Iowa Panthers
Vegas Odds: Michigan St -1
How Michigan St Got Here: Michigan St 85 - Maryland 83
How Northern Iowa Got Here: UNI 69 - Kansas 67
Why Watch? Coming off the big win over Kansas, and with Farokhmanesh mania gripping the nation, how could any basketball fan not want to see what UNI has in store next.
Why Northern Iowa will win:
Interestingly, despite the disparity in seed, the #'s suggest Northern Iowa is the slightly better team. They have the better RPI and their efficiency numbers are just a hair better then MSU's according to KenPom.com's stats. Besides that, they have a better record, and come in oozing with confidence after knocking off the #1 team in the country. On top of all that, the Spartans best player, Kalin Lucas, is out.
Panther to Watch:
Ali Farokhmanesh, G - 10 ppg, 2 rpg, 1 apg
The hero of UNI's big win, Farokhmanesh may be in for a return to reality. He's a good, but not great, 38% 3-pt shooter on the season and had hit just 6 of 29 threes leading up to the tourney. Some may say he's a big game player, but the stats don't lie, and eventually all players regress to their mean.
Why Michigan St will win:
Tom Izzo has been to 6 Elite Eight's (or better) in the last 11 years, so winning is nothing new for the Michigan St coach. Yes, Kalin Lucas is out, but he only played 16 minutes against Maryland and that didn't prevent the Spartans from beating another Top 25 team.
Spartans to Watch:
Durrell Summers, G - 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
Like Farokhmanesh above, it was Summers hot shooting that catapulted the Spartans into the Sweet Sixteen. He picked a perfect time to score a season-high 26 points on 6 of 7 shooting from deep. But this is also the same guy that had 4 points in their opening-round Big Ten tournament loss. Which one shows up?
How it will go down:
I'm less certain about this game then any other. On the one hand, you figure Northern Iowa will come back to Earth (Eglseder will not be Ray Allen again).. on the other Michigan St was lucky not only to have hit a buzzer-beater to get here, but lucky Durrell Summers suddenly had a monster game.
Betting Pick: Michigan St (I wouldn't touch this game though, as its a true toss-up)
Real Pick: Michigan St