Michigan State vs. Miami (Fla.): Who has the edge?

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down the matchups for Friday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game between Michigan State and Miami (Fla.).


Miami’s offense is dominated by its guard play, and while the Hurricanes aren’t a great shooting team, they know how to attack the basket, get in the lane and put pressure on defenses. Senior Davon Reed is quick and athletic and at 6-foot-6 has the size to score around the rim. He leads the Hurricanes in scoring at 15 points a game while junior Ja’Quan Newton averages 13.4, and freshman Bruce Brown scores 11.9 game. Junior Tum Tum Nairn is Michigan State’s best defender and pushes the ball in transition, but he’s a liability on offense. Freshman Cassius Winston is the opposite. He’ll be challenged on the defensive end by Miami’s guards, but can match them on the other end in shot-making and creating for others. If the Spartans get significant production from senior Alvin Ellis, freshman Joshua Langford and sophomore Matt McQuaid, it will go a long way for the Spartans. Edge: Miami


Miami has plenty of size up front with 6-foot-11 freshman Dewan Huell and 6-10 sophomore Ebuka Izundu combining to average 10 points and 6.2 rebounds. Senior Kamari Murphy, a 6-8 forward who gets after the glass, scores 7.3 a game and pulls down 7.5 rebounds. Michigan State will rely heavily on freshman Nick Ward in the post on the offensive end while sophomore Kenny Goins will have to overcome the mismatch in size. Freshman Miles Bridges has spent most of his time this season at the four and will be counted on to be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor. Edge: Michigan State


Neither team enters the NCAA Tournament on a roll ,as each have lost three of its final four games. However, both believe they have the talent to win and create problems for Kansas in what would likely be a second-round matchup. Miami coach Jim Larranaga has gotten the best of Tom Izzo — first at George Mason in 2006 on the way to the Final Four and then in 2012 at Miami – a fact that wasn’t lost on either coach. While Miami is coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last season, Michigan State is trying to bury the memory of last season’s first-round loss. Edge: Even.


The numbers say it will be a close game, as both teams rank among the top 30 in the nation in defense while each has its challenges on the offensive end. The question is what can be the difference. Miami doesn’t have a great low-post threat while Michigan State has Ward. If the freshman big man stays out of foul trouble, the Spartans will have a chance to create an advantage and move on to Sunday. Michigan State 67, Miami 62.