By Charles Jay
The Michigan State Spartans have indisputably been one of the top teams in college basketball just about all season long, even though they have suffered a bit of attrition, and that is a testament to their head coach. And Tom Izzo just so happens to be a VERY experienced hand when it comes to going to the Final Four. In his eighth trip into this stage of the NCAA Tournament, he’s got his team ready to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a game where both teams should be prepared to go through the “meat-grinder,” so to speak.
Game time is set for 8:49 PM ET, although it could tip off later, according to what happens in the previous game between Virginia and Auburn. The site is U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and while the festivities are being televised by CBS, BetAnySports can get their fill of in-game action, if they so wish, by accessing what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
Michigan State, which has played without talented guard Joshua Langford for much of the year, have not been the worse for wear, as they have been “quarterbacked” by Cassius Winston, the All-American who may be the best small guard in the country, and who came through in the Elite Eight win over Duke with an heroic effort, pouring in 20 points with ten assists. He will find the open man (second nationally in assist rate), and he leads a chemistry-rich squad that has had assists on two-thirds of its baskets, which is amazing.
They’ll need all that ball movement and more against a Texas Tech team that is ranked #1 overall in defensive efficiency, clogging the middle and making it difficult to shoot from three-point range (allow 29.3%) as well as inside the arc (just 42%). And they are going to bother Michigan State a great deal in getting the ball up the floor, as they are eleventh in the nation at inducing turnovers (23% of the time).
Everyone has heard of Izzo, but Chris Beard is a little more anonymous. That is changing, since the Bob Knight disciple has just won national coach of the year honors. He runs a very tight ship, and if his players can’t go 100% and the some on the defensive end, they are ordered to take themselves out of the game. That’s first; that’s the priority. And with all due respect to the talents of Winston, Beard may have the best player on the floor in Jarrett Culver, who you’ll see going among the first ten or so picks in the NBA Draft.
In the Final Four betting odds on this NCAA Tournament game, as they have been posted at BetAnySports, Michigan State is the slight favorite:
Michigan State Spartans -2.5
Texas Tech Red Raiders +2.5
Over 132 points -110
Under 132 points -110
One of the objectives on the part of Texas Tech Tech has to be forcing someone other than Winston to handle the ball in the backcourt. That will be their best chance to make s mistake happen to create some extra opportunities. And the Spartans have committed TO’s on 18.5% of their possessions, which is about average. However, against this opponent they may need to be MUCH better than average. Michigan had fewer turnovers than any team in the country (8.8 per game), yet Texas Tech forced 14 out of them.
Texas Tech’s huge challenge here will be to go toe-to-toe with Michigan State on the boards. Izzo’s team has a +9.5-per-game ratio in rebounding, and a lot of that is extracted on the offensive glass, where they are among the top 25 teams in the nation. So the Red Raiders may find themselves having to defend not once, but twice. And with Sparty having 67% of its field goals coming by way of an assist, they could easily move the ball around to a spot where they can get a good shot, particularly on a second chance opportunity.
The Red Raiders are not going to muscle anybody to death, but they ought to make it real guard for MSU inside. Tariq Owens, the St. John’s transfer, is a great shot blocker (2.4 per game) and we really can’t be sure how well Nick Ward is going to shoot. He had that hand injury, and re-aggravated that during the Elite Eight.
When you consider that Texas Tech was able to hold Michigan and Buffalo to their lowest point total of the season, it suggests not only that they got their shots snuffed out (Michigan was 1-19 in triples), but that they lost the game of pace as well. And Gonzaga was averaging 88 ppg, but had just 69. Beard has made masterful halftime adjustments and is hardly functioning like a guy seeing all this for the first time. Getting points in this situation may just be a gift.
BetAnySports has you set for the Final Four, with reduced juice for better odds, along with Live Betting Ultra, which enables real-time wagering after the tip……. Deposits are a snap, with your Visa card, person-to-person transfers (like Western Union) orr the virtual currency of Bitcoin, which is fast and easy with their automated system, and NEVER incurs a transaction fee!
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