Michigan State vs Valparaiso
The first game is set to be an entertaining one, with Michigan State vs Valparaiso. It’ll be a tough match for Valparaiso as they play the 3rd ranked team in the Big 10. Michigan State are led by steady point guard Keith Appling, who averages 13.5 points, 3.5 boards and 3.5 assists per game. The junior guard is one of the more underrated players in the nation. Bruising guard Gary Harris and 6-10 junior forward Adrian Payne are the Spartans key offensive contributors, averaging 12.9 and 10.4 points respectively. Derrick Nix also adds plenty of size and bulk inside.
The Spartans own wins over Michigan, Kansas, Ohio State and Wisconsin. They reached the Big Ten semifinals and somehow went 13-5 in the rugged Big Ten despite not having the talent that some other teams have. Never count out Tom Izzo; he is an exceptional coach.
Key Stats for Michigan State
55th Rebounds Per Game (37.3)
50th Field Goal Percentage (.460)
The Crusaders got here thanks to leading scorer Ryan Broekhoff, who hit this crazy game-winner to keep their season alive in the Horizon League semifinals. Broekhoff is obviously a clutch scorer, but he also puts up 15.9 points and 7 boards per game. He was named the Horizon League Player of the Year.
They probably can’t match up with Michigan State’s size though, and it’s tough to think that anyone is going to out game-plan Tom Izzo. They also don’t rebound well enough to beat the rugged Spartans, ranking 248th in rebounds per game. Someone once told me that those who control the rebound control the game, and that’s what this will come.
Key Stats for Valparaiso
6th Field Goal Percentage
248th Rebounds Per Game