Michigan State vs. Oklahoma: How they match up
Junior Buddy Hield, who leads the Sooners in scoring and is the Big 12 player of the year, had his biggest play on defense against Dayton, blocking a shot with a minute to play to secure the victory. Junior Isaiah Cousins shoots 45 percent from 3-point range, and sophomore Jordan Woodard is averaging 12 points during the postseason. Senior Travis Trice carries Michigan State after scoring 23 in the victory over Virginia, including 13 of the first 15. Junior Denzel Valentine has been more sporadic, but his presence keeps the offense flowing. Freshman Lourawls Nairn is a force on defense and running the break.
Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler (6-foot-8, 235 pounds) and TaShawn Thomas (6-8, 242) pose a matchup problem. Thomas, a Houston transfer, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year and is averaging 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds. Spangler is shooting a team-high 58.2 percent. Senior Branden Dawson continues to be a spark for the Spartans, with 14 points and eight rebounds against Georgia and 15 and nine against Virginia. Gavin Schilling has struggled down the stretch but played one of his better games against Virginia (four points, two blocks, 17 minutes).
Frank Booker and Dinjiyl Walker have been solid off the bench for Oklahoma, while Khadeem Lattin and D.J. Bennett provide frontcourt depth. Michigan State has gotten contributions from different players throughout the postseason. Junior G Bryn Forbes has been among the best, hitting timely shots and improving his defense. Matt Costello (knee) is a steady force on the block. Marvin Clark Jr. and Alvin Ellis have provided consistent minutes, while Colby Wollenman has been effective in stretches.
Edge: Michigan State
Lon Kruger has had his share of Tournament success, becoming the first coach to take four teams to the Sweet 16. He is also the only coach to win at least one Tournament game with five schools, and reached a Final Four with Florida in 1994. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has become the master of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are in their fourth straight Sweet 16 and 13th under Izzo. It is also the 18th straight appearance in the Tournament for Izzo, while Michigan State leads the nation with seven Sweet 16 trips in the last eight years.
Edge: Michigan State