In what is now known as the second round, the fourth seeded Michigan State Spartans are set to take on the number 13 seed Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens. Both teams received automatic bids to the tournament, with Michigan States, despite finishing three games behind Big Ten champion Michigan, bested their rivals in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game. Delaware received their automatic bid by winning the CAA. With a 25-9 record for Delaware against a 26-8 record, this is about where the comparisons should stop though.
#13- Delaware Blue Hens vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans
Thursday March 20, 4:40 pm EST on TNT
NCAA Tournament Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Basketball Betting Favorite: Michigan State -14
Michigan State, by many, were selected as the national champion favorite going into the start of the season, and while they did begin with an 18-1 record, injuries started to derail their season. In fact, after mid January, the team didn’t win two consecutive games until it won its three games in the Big Ten tournament. In these three games, it defeated both Michigan and Wisconsin, two teams who received 2 seeds in the March Madness tournament.
Delaware has three guys who average 18 points per game or more, but this Blue Hens team has played a weak schedule all year and they haven’t faced a team with a defense or level of physicality even close to Michigan State’s. Delaware is going to need to make this game an all out track meet if they wish to stay close, because they won’t be able to score efficiently against Michigan State’s halfcourt defense.
Michigan State looks to be coming into common Tom Izzo March form, as every player who has every played for the coach has made at least one Final Four, as long as they stayed four years. Current seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling have not made one, and this is their last chance. The biggest question, however, will be exactly what State team shows up. While the Spartans are finally back to their full strength and did look impressive in the Big Ten tournament, they are only 4-2 with all of their players back. While this might prove a valuable question later on in the tournament, it shouldn’t matter much when it comes to playing against the Delaware Blue Hens.
Free Pick: Michigan State -14
This free pick points to Michigan State rolling in this game. Although State often played down to their opponents level throughout the regular season (including losing to both Nebraska and Illinois at home), the Spartans are rounding into form at the right time of the year. Tom Izzo’s teams are always really tough to beat during March. Tough draw for Delaware here. Michigan State wins comfortably.
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