TALE OF THE TAPE

Round Of 32: #4 Michigan State Vs. #12 Harvard

President Barack Obama picked the Michigan State Spartans to win the national championship in this year’s March Madness college basketball tournament, and they didn’t disappoint in the Round of 64, scoring 93 points to beat up Delaware. However, in the second round they get a tenacious Harvard Crimson team that upset the fifth ranked Cincinnati Bearcats to advance in the tournament.

#4 Michigan State
#12 Harvard
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Coaching
Winner The reason that President Obama chose the Spartans was because of head coach Tom Izzo, a coach that he believes is a big game tournament winner. He has won it all once before, in 2000, and has six Final Four appearances over his career as well.
Tommy Amaker, the former Michigan Wolverines head coach, has been at Harvard since 2007, and did something special this year. For the first time since 1984, an Ivy League school has won a game in consecutive March Madness tournaments. He has Harvard as a team that can’t be underestimated, and they aren’t really ultimate underdogs anymore.
Offense
Winner The one person that really seems to be leading Michigan State in this tournament is senior Adreian Payne. He led the Spartans in their first game win with a career-high 41 points, the first time since 2008 that anyone scored over 40 points in a March Madness basketball game. Overall, Michigan State averaged 53.6 percent from the field and 52.6 from beyond the arc.
In their upset win over Cincinnati, only three Harvard players scored in double digits and their best scorer was Wesley Saunders, who put up 12 points. On the season, they ranked 91st with 73.6 points per game and only scored 61 in their win. While they are tenacious, they need a lot more production to beat a team like the Spartans.
Defense
Winner While Michigan State scored a lot of points in their first round win, they allowed a 13th ranked Delaware team to score 78 points against them and saw two Hens players break 20 points. Despite this, the Spartans out-rebounded the Hens 42-24, with 32 of them on the defensive boards. This team looks like a favorite on both sides of the ball.
Defense is where Harvard excels. They finished the season ranked 13th in the nation in points allowed (60.4) and held Cincinnati to 57 in the Round of 64. They finished the game with 24 defensive rebounds, four steals and three blocks, and limited the Bearcats to only 38.8 percent from the field. They will have their work cut out for them against Payne, but they have the talent to keep it close. They are undefeated this season when their opponents score under 60 points.
Bench Depth
Winner Guard Travis Trice looked like a perfect sixth man, playing for 23 minutes and finishing with 19 points in the game, although 13 of those came in the second half when Delaware was mounting a comeback. Alvin Ellis III contributed 13 minutes but was kept scoreless in the game. This first win was all about Adreian Payne and the rest of the team were just supporting players.
Harvard played only four of their bench players in their first win, with Brandyn Curry and Evan Cumming combining for 36 minutes and 13 points. Curry is a role player, but they aren’t deep enough to play too much of a role in their games.

The Winner Is

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Winner #4 Michigan State
4 out of 4

The Michigan State Spartans are just too deep and talented to let the Harvard Crimson worry them too much. A lot of people want to find Cinderella stories in the March Madness college basketball tournament, and there aren’t many more interesting to cheer for than the Ivy League school that could, but the Spartans are a heavy favorite to go all the way.

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