#4 – Louisville
One of the main reasons why Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell stayed in school and passed on being a surefire first-round pick in the 2014 draft was because he wasn’t content with his college career ending with just a Sweet 16 appearance. A role player during Louisville’s 2013 run to a national championship, Harrell wanted to serve in a starring role in a deeper run. Yet, he had been relatively held in check going into the Cardinals’ Sweet 16 matchup against North Carolina State. However, he made up for his slow start, playing all 40 minutes and scoring a game high 24 points in a 75-65 win. Harrell also had seven rebounds and four assists. Terry Rozier was extremely impressive as well, posting a monster double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. We’re at the time of year where stars have to be at their best in order for their teams to advance, and with Harrell and Rozier playing like that the Cardinals are going to be awfully tough for Michigan State to defeat. Staying out of foul trouble is going to be equally important for the Cardinals. Their bench is a little shallow right now, and their starters have to be able to stay out on the floor the 30+ minutes again that they did against N.C. State.
– Yannis Koutroupis
#7 – Michigan State
And there it is. Just a week ago, we wrote that the Tom Izzo-led Michigan State Spartans shouldn’t be counted out. They are now on the cusp of another Final Four after a defensive gem against the 3-seed Oklahoma Sooners. After a hot start, the Sooners were held below 30 percent shooting thanks to the stifling Spartan defense. Travis Trice scored a game-high 24 points and Denzel Valentine put the finishing touches on a second-straight upset win. The Spartans have now won seven of their last nine games, with both losses coming at the hands of Wisconsin. In three tournament games, Michigan State has taken away the three-point shot from their opponents (Oklahoma was 4-17, Virginia was 2-17, and Georgia was 4-14). That sticks out right now as the key on Sunday. These two teams are going to slug it out on the defensive end and it will be up to the team that can knock down shots to advance. Louisville, a 4-seed, is on a roll of its own. They have shot 30.6 percent on the year from behind the arc. This will be the fourth meeting in the tournament between Michigan State and Louisville.
– Dan Barto
Yannis Koutroupis: Michigan State wins
Cody Toppert: Louisville wins
Dan Barto: Michigan State wins
Dan Barto has been with the IMG Academy basketball program since 2003. Prior to becoming the Head Skills Trainer, Barto was the IMG Academy basketball program’s Developmental Head Coach. Dan has trained over 100 current or former NBA players and coached over 40 Division I players. You can follow IMG on Twitter @IMGAcademy or on Facebook here.
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