EAST LANSING, Mich. — The stage has been set for Michigan State’s 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Spartans will play Friday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. They will tip off at about 9:15 p.m. ET following the 6:15 p.m. matchup between top-seeded Kansas and either N.C. Central or UC Davis. The game will be broadcast on TNT with Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson calling the action.
Oh, and the opponent? Ninth-seeded Michigan State will take on eighth-seeded Miami (Fla.), the program that produced NBA legend Rick Barry and not much else until it ended its 38-year NCAA Tournament drought in 1998. You can blame the school for dropping the men’s basketball team in 1971 and starting from scratch in 1985.
The two programs have only met once. Michigan State took a trip down to Miami for the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the unranked Hurricanes rushed the floor following a 67-59 upset over the No. 13 Spartans. Miami would ultimately win both the ACC regular-season title and conference tournament a few months later.
Miami coach Jim Larrañaga and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo have coached against each other more than their programs have faced off. Apart from that 2012 game, Larrañaga’s George Mason teams met the Spartans twice.
You probably remember the loss, which came in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. It looked a little better after the 11th-seeded Patriots went on to seize a Final Four berth that year.
Miami comes in at a modest 21-11. However, 10 of those losses came against NCAA Tournament teams and the 11th was to Syracuse, one of the first teams out.
Here’s a quick look at the Hurricanes.
Head coach: Jim Larrañaga (6th year, 139-68)
Record: 21-11, 10-8 conference (T-7th)
NCAA seed: No. 8
NCAA appearances: 8 (8-8)
National championships: 0
Last 10 games: 6-4
Offense: 69.4 PPG
Defense: 63.7 PPG
Leading scorer: Davon Reed, 15.0 PPG
Michigan State fans might be looking at this matchup and already dreaming of a second-round meeting with Kansas. But don’t forget that seed-wise, the Spartans come in as an underdog against Miami.
And to beat the Hurricanes, Michigan State needs to prove it can score. Miami holds opponents to 63.7 points per game mainly by running teams off the 3-point line and playing good positional defense. The Hurricanes don’t force many turnovers, but they frustrate opponents into tough shots.
On the other end, they tend to have trouble scoring, and like Michigan State they rely on a few consistent scorers. The Hurricanes’ best defender, Davon Reed, also leads them with 15.0 points per game. Ja’Quan Newton commands the offense with 13.4 points and 3.4 assists per game, and talented freshman Bruce Brown does a bit of everything.
Miami averages 11.9 assists per game, good for just 276th in the nation. Additionally, not one player shoots 40 percent or better from 3-point range. So look for the Hurricanes to put the ball on the deck and try to get buckets one-on-one.
But it’s all about the defense with Larrañaga’s team, and despite finishing with three losses in its last four games, Miami has really turned it up lately. Over the past month, the Hurricanes have given up just 61.4 points per game.
|Davon Reed||Sr.||G||15.0||4.8||1.3 steals, 39.9 3FG%|
|Ja’Quan Newton||Jr.||G||13.4||3.6||3.4 assists, 3.3 turnovers|
|Bruce Brown||Fr.||G||11.9||5.8||3.2 assists, 1.4 steals|
|Kamari Murphy||RSr.||F||7.3||7.5||52.5 FG%|
|Anthony Lawrence Jr.||So.||G||6.9||3.8||1.8 assists, 1.3 steals|