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March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (4) Michigan State vs. (7) UConn

A breakdown of Michigan State-UConn in the Elite Eight and a chance to vote on who you think will win!

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Michigan State Spartans
Going up against arguably the best defense in the country, the Spartans proved that they’re no slouch on that end of the floor either, holding the Virginia Cavaliers to 35 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from distance as they eliminated them 61-59. After setting a new career-high against Harvard, Branden Dawson once again eclipsed the 20-point plateau with 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Adreian Payne was second on the team in scoring with 16, but Virginia did a good job of taking everyone else away as they were the only two Spartans with more than two field goals. They’ll need a more balanced attack against the Huskies. Their backcourt of Keith Appling and Gary Harris will really need to be aggressive against Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright so that they’re not allowed to just expend all of their energy on the offensive end, where they can be lethal – Napier especially. The X-Factor for the Huskies who makes them a championship contending team is DeAndre Daniels. The Spartans’ defense should give him the same respect they give Napier and Boatright, because if they can take him away they’re a much easier team to defend and defeat. Both the Spartans and the Huskies were outrebounded in the Sweet 16, so look for that to be a key factor in determining who ends up in the Elite Eight.

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UConn Huskies
The UConn-Iowa State Sweet 16 matchup looked like a game that could be an offensive shootout on paper and it turned out to be just that. Unfortunately for Iowa State, the Huskies came through with one of their best offensive showings of the season, shooting 52 percent from the field, 47 percent from beyond the arc and 20-22 from the free throw line as they topped the Cyclones 81-76 to move onto the Elite Eight. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were solid, combining to score 34 points and dish out seven assists. However, the star for the Huskies was DeAndre Daniels. He came through with his best game as a Huskie, posting a monster double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds. The Cyclones’ stars, Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane, struggled offensively, shooting a combined 9-31 from the field. Kane did flirt with a triple-double, though, coming up just one assist and two rebounds shy of the feat. What will really bother the Cyclones is the nine free throws they missed; this was truly a game that they lost at the line. In the Elite Eight they’re going to need Daniels to show up large again as the Spartans are loaded on the frontline. The Spartans are coming off of a war against Virginia in which Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson were the only two consistent sources of offense. If the Huskies are as efficient as they were offensively against the Cylcones, they could be Final Four bound.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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