The Field of 68 is now down to 32, with Michigan State and Purdue winning games on Friday evening.
To see the NCAA Tournament bracket, or other post-season brackets, click here.
For each of the 68 teams records against the spread, click here.
I’ll break down each game of the NCAA Tournament involving Big Ten teams. Today, I’ll cover Sunday’s third round games (formerly the second round).
#1 Michigan State (28-7) (13-5 Big Ten) vs. #9 Saint Louis (26-7) (12-4 Atlantic 10)
Game Time: 2:45 PM EST (approx) on Friday.
Winner Plays: #4 Louisville/#5 New Mexico (on Thursday).
Michigan State: After seeing both Duke and Missouri fall as two seeds on Friday, Coach Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans took care of business, defeating LIU Brooklyn 89-67 in Columbus, at Nationwide Arena. The last two times the Spartans were a one seed they did no worse than make the NCAA Finals. 3-star forward Draymond Green (16.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 39.8 Three Point Shooting Percentage), 4-star guard Keith Appling (11.3 PPG and 3.9 APG), guard Brandon Wood (transfer from Valparaiso) (8.6 PPG, 46.4 Field Goal Shooting Percentage, and 37.2 Three Point Shooting Percentage) have led the Spartans. They also lost 5-star forward Branden Dawson (8.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 57.7 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) for the rest of the season, due to a torn ACL.
Saint Louis: Saint Louis, coached by Rick Majerus, took care of Memphis on Friday, beating the Tigers by seven in Columbus. The Billikens played even with Memphis most of the first half, pulling away in the second half. 2-star forward Brian Conklin (14.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 52.7 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), 3-star guard Kwamain Mitchell (12.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.3 SPG) and forward Cody Ellis (10.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 38.9 Three Point Shooting Percentage) led Saint Louis to a second place finish in the Atlantic 10.
My Take: If you saw Michigan State’s game on Friday, you knew about the temperature problem in the arena – water from the hockey rink was coming onto the floor, creating a hazardous situation. This can obviously pose a problem for both teams. Rick Majerus has taken three teams to the NCAA Tournament (Ball State, Utah, and Saint Louis – also coached Marquette to the NIT). Out of 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament, Coach Majerus has made the Sweet 16 four times. Michigan State has a slight size advantage over Saint Louis (6’5" and 211 lbs average versus 6’4" 208 lbs). That advantage becomes huge when talking about rebounding – the Spartans average roughly six rebounds more per game than the Billikens; MSU also makes a higher percentage of their shots (47.6% versus 45.2%). Assuming this is a tough, physical game, stronger built Michigan State should dominate the more athletic Billikens.
The Pick: Michigan State -6.
#10 Purdue (22-12) (10-8 Big Ten) vs. #2 Kansas (28-6) (16-2 Big 12)
Game Time: 8:40 PM EST (approx) on Sunday.
Winner Plays: #3 Georgetown/#11 North Carolina State (on Friday).
Purdue: Purdue got by 7-seeded Saint Mary’s on Friday, winning by three in Omaha – two of the four games resulted in upsets there. Purdue led by 13 at one time, only to see the Gaels take a one point lead with under a minute left. 4-star forward Robbie Hummel (16.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 83.3 Free Throw Shooting Percentage), 3-star guard Lewis Jackson (10.5 PPG, 4.2 APG, 47.2 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 3-star guard Ryne Smith (9.3 RPG, 43.7 Field Goal Shooting Percentage, and 43.1 Three Point Shooting Percentage) have led Purdue offensively, this season.
Kansas: Many thought Detroit had a shot at knocking off 2-seeded Kansas. The Jayhawks jumped on the Titans early, and kept up the pressure, to the tune of a 15-point victory on Friday. All-American 4-star forward Thomas Robinson (17.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 53.1 Field Goal Percentage), 4-star guard Tyshawn Taylor (17.1, PPG, 4.7 APG, and 42.9 Three Point Shooting Percentage), and 4-star center Jeff Withey (transfer from Arizona) (9.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 54.3 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) led Kansas to the regular season title in the Big 12.
My Take: Bill Self coached in the Big Ten with Illinois from 2000-2003, compiling a 78-24 record while at Illinois, and a 38-15 record against Big Ten teams. Since taking over in Lawrence, Coach Self is 5-2 against Big Ten opponents. The Jayhawks do a great job at shooting the ball (14th in the nation in field goal percentage) and at moving the ball around (21st in the nation in assists per game). Its important for the Boilers to go right at Taylor, Kansas’s leader in assists per game; Kansas is 9-4 when Taylor has three or more fouls (19-2 when 2 fouls or less). With the discrepancy in rebounding margin and shooting percentage, both favoring Kansas, Purdue is going to need to hit their shots – Withey can cause some big problems for the Boilermakers.
The Pick: Kansas -8.