Friday, 9 December 2011

Michigan St. - UCONN preview

Michigan St. is in the Final Four, for the fifth time under Tom Izzo, and has a huge advantage playing in Detroit. Michigan St. fans are turning out by the thousands and the Spartans should have the crowd advantage. Michigan St. has relied on it's defense so far in the tournament, the Spartans have not given up more than 70 points in any game so far, and held Louisville (which scored 101 against Arizona) to 52 points. Goran Suton is key for Michigan St. The 6' 10" senior had 20 against Kansas, and 19 (with three triples) against Louisville. Suton's versatility will be vital for Michigan St., when they try to bring Hasheem Thabeet away from the basket. The Spartans can also use their depth to their advantage. Michigan St. has 12 players that average 6 or more minutes a game and 10 players average 3 or more points a game. Will Michigan St. will have to contend with Thabeet, they might be giving up something that has helped them win games all year, rebounding. Yes, the Spartans averaged 35.6 rebounds a game, good enough for first in the Big 10 and 26th nationally. A more telling statistic however is Michigan St.'s rebound percentage (58.4%), which effectively makes them the best rebounding team in the country. All in all the Michigan St. is not a great shooting team, and will rely on rebounding, hustle plays and the leadership of young point guard Kalin Lucas. UCONN had a tough test with Missouri, but emerged victorious. All the rest of the Huskies games have hardly been tests. UCONN hammered Chattanooga in the first round (103-47), moved on to destroy Texas A&M (92-66) and finally after struggling a little, UCONN dismantled Purdue (72-60). Behind the long arms of Hasheem Thabeet UCONN is the best shot blocking team in county averaging nearly eight blocks a game, four of which Thabeet accounts for. Jerome Dyson, who has played only one minute in the entire tournament (against Purdue), is questionable for today's game, but if he does play he should give the Huskies a big lift. With Thabeet and Jeff Adrien manning the board, UCONN averages 40.7 rebounds a game, best in the country. This maybe one of Jim Calhoun's last runs in the tournament, as he has been battling some serious health issues recently. This could provide an added incentive for UCONN, to win one for coach, who has been at UCONN since 1986. For UCONN to win they should look to speed the game up, because Michigan St. can definitely stay with them in a half court game. As long as the Huskies dominate the glass, Michigan St. will have a hard time getting any easy baskets.

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