East Region Second Round Prediction & Free Pick: #2 Michigan State vs. #10 Minnesota

Date | AuthorAdmir Aljic

Last Updated: 2019-03-22

It’s a Big Ten showdown in the second round of the East Region, as the No. 10 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the No. 2 seed Michigan State Spartans at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The Spartans are listed as 10-point favorites with the total at 142.0 points and Minnesota at +440 money line odds. These two foes will meet for the second time this season, and the Spartans thrashed off the Golden Gophers 79-55 as 13.5-point home favorites on February 9, 2019.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers pull off an upset in the first round of the East Region, defeating the No. 7 seed Louisville Cardinals 86-76. The Golden Gophers shot 50.0% from the field, hitting 11 treys out of 27 attempts from deep. Interestingly, all five Minnesota’s starters scored in double figures, while the Golden Gophers’ bench contributed with zero points, three rebounds, and a dime. The freshman guard Gabe Kalscheur led his team with 24 points and eight rebounds, but the Golden Gophers will need more from their second unit if they want to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Minnesota is scoring 111.6 points per 100 possessions this season (42nd in the country) on just 48.7 effective field goal percentage (265th), allowing 96.4 points in a return (52nd) on 49.2 effective field goal percentage (107th). The Golden Gophers are averaging 68.7 possessions per 40 minutes (184th). The junior guard Amir Coffey and the senior wing Jordan Murphy are key players in this Minnesota team. Coffey is averaging 16.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game, while Murphy is posting 14.9 points and 11.3 boards per contest. In Minnesota’s previous matchup with Michigan State, Murphy scored five points, while Coffey had just four.

On the other side, the Michigan State Spartans had some problems in the previous round, beating the No. 15 seed Bradley Braves 76-65 as massive 18.5-point favorites. The Spartans were down by a point at halftime, while the head coach Tom Izzo was yelling at freshman Aaron Henry in the second half, completely unhappy with his boys’ effort. After the game, Izzo stated that a couple of players didn’t compete the way they needed to. The Spartans made 42.6% of their field goals and just 26.3% of their 3-pointers, but they shot 25-of-26 from the free-throw line. Cassius Winston had a good game, tallying 26 points and four assists, but the Spartans will have to do a much better job against Minnesota if they want to proceed to the next round.

Michigan State is scoring 120.2 points per 100 possessions (6th in the country) on 55.6 effective field goal percentage (17th), conceding 91.9 points in a return (16th) on 43.9 effective field goal percentage (6th). The Spartans are recording 69.1 possessions per 40 minutes (155th). The junior PG Cassius Winston is a true leader of this Michigan State team, and he’s averaging 19.1 points and 7.5 assists per game while hitting 47.2% of his field goals. The junior forward Nick Ward is posting 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest, but he had a poor day in the office against Bradley, scoring eight points on 25.0% shooting from the field. Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds against Minnesota earlier in the season.

Pick: Michigan State Spartans -10.0

The Spartans completely dominated the Golden Gophers in their first H2H duel of the season, limiting their rivals on 36.7% shooting from the field and forcing 16 turnovers. The Spartans will need to replicate that defensive performance on this one, and after Tom Izzo’s reaction, I think they will be more focused against the conference rivals. Minnesota is struggling offensively, and the Golden Gophers will have a mountain to climb against the Spartans’ defense, so I’m backing Michigan State to cover.

Michigan State is 4-1 straight up and ATS in its last five meetings with Minnesota, and the Spartans are 16-4 straight up and 14-6 ATS in the previous 20 H2H matchups. They are 11-1 straight up and 8-4 ATS in the last 12 games overall. The Spartans are 8-5 ATS in their last 13 second-round games, while the Golden Gophers are 2-7 ATS in their last nine outings in the NCAA Tournament.

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