NCAA Tournament Picks: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma | Sweet 16 Upset in the Making?

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, March 27, 2015 2:26 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 27, 2015 2:26 PM UTC

Michigan State & Oklahoma will meet for this Sweet 16 matchup. Join our expert NCAA Basketball capper by reading his betting preview on tonight's game, and see if your pick matches!

Michigan St. (-2-) vs. Oklahoma 10:05 ET TBS
At 10:05 ET, Michigan St. and Oklahoma will tip off a Sweet 16 game in a matchup of storied coaches, each with solid post-season resumes. Oklahoma is coached by Lon Kruger, who has taken Kansas St., Florida, UNLV and now Oklahoma to the Sweet 16.  But, it is the post-season excellence of Michigan St. 20th year HC Tom Izzo that has found its way into the betting line. Under Izzo, the Spartans are now playing in their 4th consecutive Sweet 16, and are listed as short favorites on the NCAA Tournament odds. Along with his (5) Final Four appearances this millennium, Izzo is quickly becoming known as “Mr. March.”  


Again this season, Izzo has squeezed the maximum out of his troops.  This year, playing to his personnel, the strength of the Spartans is on the perimeter.  Valentine, Trice and Forbes are all capable of knocking down the triple or taking it to the hoop.  In addition, Dawson is a wing player with the same abilities.  Strengths of Michigan St. are an always strong defense which this year allows just 63 PPG on 40% shooting and 32% from the arc.  The Spartans have a +6.8 rebound margin, are making 47% from the field and 39% from the arc, while authoring 17.1 assists per game.  Eventually, however, the 63% foul shooting that is the Spartan’s Achilles Heel will come to the fore as will the fact they force a modest 11 TOs per game.  

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Fourth year Oklahoma HC Kruger has been building for this season.  In the previous 3 years, his Sooners have won 15, 20 and 23 games last year when they played in the NCAA Round of 64.  Today, they enter play with a 24-10 SU record, after defeating Albany in the First Round and making a miraculous comeback vs. Dayton.  In the final 10 minutes of that game, they turned a 9 point deficit into a 6 point win and cover, using ferocious defense to key open court baskets.  The addition of TaShawn Thomas (Houston) has been most important, along with the scoring of veteran guard, Buddy Hield.  But, the strength of this team is their fast-paced, open court offense, their outstanding chemistry and the coaching of Kruger.  Along with WVU, the Sooners are 2 of 7 Big 12 teams who have advanced to the Sweet 16.  A hidden gem among the Oklahoma stats is a defense that allows just 39% from the field and 31% from the arc.


In both the Round of 64, as well as in yesterday’s Wichita St./Notre Dame analysis, I emphasized the concept of gap dog.  To refresh your memory, it is when the linemaker and public make the worse seeded team (by 3 or more seeds) the favorite in the game.  The resulting better seeded team becomes the gap (seeded) dog.  Such is exactly the case with the over-hyped Michigan St. team, who is a 2 ½ point favorite in this contest, a game in which most responsible power ratings show Oklahoma to be the favorite.  Follow this over 60% long-term situation for an upset Sweet 16 winner with Oklahoma as your NCAA tournament pick.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Oklahoma at at Bodog

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