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Tennessee vs Michigan State Picks – Izzo Is Irresistible

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/31/2010 1:25:53 PM

Online betting sometimes forces savvy sports fans to trust certain people instead of the larger realities they see on a basketball court. You might look at a team and say that it should certainly be favored in a specific game, but when you then consider the coach of the opponent, it’s hard to deny the power of that one man who always seems to have the right answer. Quite simply, then, the team that should win Sunday’s Midwest Regional final is Tennessee. However, the one man with a winning game plan is coaching Michigan State.

  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Sunday, March 28th – Approx. 2:20 PM ET
  • Where: Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, MO
  • Key Stat: Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is 5-1 all-time in regional finals, for a winning percentage (83 percent) that is second only to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (90 percent) among active Division I coaches.
    • The Tennessee-Michigan State Storyline

      If sportsbook odds focused solely on the two teams that will take the court on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, Tennessee would merit a clear-cut advantage. The Vols used their 10-man rotation to wear down a talented but thin Ohio State squad in Friday’s first Midwest Regional semifinal at the Edward Jones Dome. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl – a force of nature on the Tennessee sideline – is a very credentialed coach of a team that is playing very confidently at the moment. With the inside power of forward Wayne Chism, plus the agility of swingman J.P. Prince, Tennessee possesses a devastating combination of length and quickness that will bother any opponent.

      On Sunday, Tennessee’s length on defense is what gives the Vols a great chance to beat Michigan State. If you factor in the Spartans’ injuries – especially the loss of starting point guard Kalin Lucas – this convergence of basketball circumstances should produce a Tennessee victory.

      There’s just one problem: Michigan State has the one man who can go toe-to-toe with Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski and not look grossly inferior by comparison.

      While Coach K has the best resume of any active coach, and has become the closest thing to John Wooden over the past 25 years, Tom Izzo is rapidly acquiring a body of work that can stand up to the brilliant Blue Devil boss. Izzo annually squeezes the most out of his teams, especially at tournament time. He’s one win away from making a sixth Final Four in the past 12 seasons. Moreover, his one loss in a regional final (referenced above) came when his team was a No. 7 seed playing a No. 1 seed – Texas – in San Antonio in 2003. Yeah. He’s that good.

      Sports betting gurus know that Tom Izzo is someone who can be trusted in late March. It’s a central truth of modern-day college basketball.

      Offensive Matchups

      Without Kalin Lucas, Michigan State needs more production from guard Korie Lucious and forward Raymar Morgan. Both players contributed key baskets in Friday’s win over Northern Iowa in the other Midwest Regional semifinal, but they didn’t light up the scoreboard on a consistent basis. Lucious will likely need to hit some jumpers in order to open up the paint for Morgan and fellow forwards Draymond Green and Delvon Roe. Tennessee’s offense performed with great efficiency against Ohio State. If the Vols display more of the intelligence they exhibited on Friday, they’ll be awfully tough to stop.

      Betting Edge: Tennessee

      Defensive Matchups

      Tennessee’s length is extremely bothersome, as Ohio State and its long-distance sniper, Jon Diebler, found out on Friday night. The Vols also run bodies at shooters and force opponents to maintain a great deal of consistency over 40 minutes. Tennessee might not be fundamentally sound at all times, but it wears down other teams. Michigan State – without Lucas – is not as deep as it used to be, giving the Vols a crucial edge.

      On the other hand, Michigan State hounded Northern Iowa on Friday, preventing the Panthers from hitting a single field goal in the final 10:22 of regulation. Both of these defenses deserve considerable respect. They’ll be tough to break down on Sunday.

      Betting Edge: Even

      Injuries

      Kalin Lucas of Michigan State is out for this game. Other Spartans (Chris Allen and Delvon Roe in particular) are nicked up but will play.

      Betting Edge: Tennessee

      Betting Prediction: Tennessee vs Michigan State Picks

      Tennessee has the better offense, and Michigan State’s leading scorer – Lucas – is out. Logically, the Vols should win. Then again, Michigan State was considered a slight underdog against Northern Iowa in the minds of many basketball pundits, and we all know how that game turned out. Tom Izzo demands trust. In what should be a close game, count on Sparty to make the biggest plays and go back to the Final Four.

      Washington’s Pick: Michigan State

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