A pair of college basketball heavyweights will meet in the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA tournament when Michigan State faces Louisville Thursday night in Phoenix. Find out why we are adding the dog to our NCAA Basketball picks.

Sportsbooks opened with the Spartans listed as -4.5 point favorites, with NCAA Basketball odds makers setting the total at 124. While the game's spread remains unchanged at this point, the matchup's total is now being offered slightly higher at 124.5 at some college basketball betting shops.

Lets preview this matchup and decide where us bettors should lay our NCAA Basketball picks.

The Spartans punched their ticket to the West Region semi-finals with a narrow victory over Saint Louis on Sunday while 4th seed Louisville held off No. 5 seed New Mexico on Saturday.

Closer expected

Louisville vs. Michigan StateWith Draymond Green leading the way, No. 1-seed in the West Region Michigan State held off No. 9 St. Louis on Sunday, 65-61, advancing to the Round of 16 for the 10th time in Coach Tom Izzo’s 17 seasons. Green who came into the game having recorded a triple-double in each of his two previous NCAA Tournament games, finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Derrick Nix and Brandon Wood each scored 10.

Keith Appling led MSU with 19 points but was a sports bettor’s worst friend missing several key free throws down the stretch that would have wrapped up a cover for the favored Spartans. Instead Saint Louis used a pair of late 3-pointers and Appling’s struggles at the stripe to steal the ATS victory as a 7-point underdog. Kwamain Mitchell scored 13 and Brian Conklin 11 for Saint Louis which was back in the tournament for the first time since 2000.

Cardinals take flight

Louisville's path to the Sweet 16 went through Davidson and New Mexico. The Cardinals (28-9 SU, 20-13-1 ATS) beat the Wildcats 69-62 on Thursday and the Lobos 59-56 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009. Russ Smith scored 17 points to lead Louisville which shot 45.8 percent but held New Mexico to 5 of 23 from beyond the arc.

Drew Gordon had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Kendall Williams scored 11 points for New Mexico (28-7), which has never won consecutive NCAA tournament games.

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Rick Pitino’s club. Louisville rose to No. 4 in the rankings in December before taking a big tumble with five losses in seven games. The Cardinals also lost three of four heading into the conference tournament and not many observers gave them any chance of winning the Big East tournament. However, Louisville won four games in four nights, capped by a 50-44 victory over Cincinnati in the Big East championship game. Including the league tournament and their first two appearances at the Dance the Cardinals are 6-0 SU and ATS. This will be the schools 18th visit to the round of 16.

Last meeting

Michigan State and Louisville met three years ago in the Elite Eight. The Spartans won the game 64-52 to clinch a trip to the Final Four in Detroit. Now MSU is two wins away from another trip to the National semi-finals in New Orleans.

Betting analysis: Missed free throws in the final minute of the game by the Spartans and a pair of 3-pointers by Cody Ellis and Mike McCall of Saint Louis killed the Michigan State cover (-6.5). If you had the Spartans, don’t’ feel like the Lone Ranger, as a certain writer I know was going berserk in the final minute. This wasn’t a bad beat just a tough loss. You’ve got to hit the front end of those bonus opportunities.

Harvey’s Take: This will be the toughest game for either team so far and my gut tells me that the winner will go on to capture the NCAA championship. As much as I love Izzo and the Spartan, I’m going to take the underdog Cardinals to win outright.

Good Luck.