clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can Michigan State Continue its Tournament Run Against Oklahoma in the Sweet Sixteen?

The Spartans have gotten off to a good start in the NCAA Tournament after beating Georgia and the two-seeded Virginia Cavaliers to reach the Sweet Sixteen where they will face off against Lon Kruger's Oklahoma Sooners.

Travis Trice in Michigan State's Round of 32 win over Virginia
Travis Trice in Michigan State's Round of 32 win over Virginia
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

After reaching the Sweet Sixteen as a seven seed, Tom Izzo's Michigan State Sprtans really haven't raised many eyebrows yet. Regardless of how good of a season this Spartans team has, it rarely ever has a problem preforming at a high-level in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State has already beaten one of the best teams in the field in the Virginia Cavaliers, so there is no telling how far it could go; that being said, Oklahoma will be no walk in the park for Izzo's squad.

The Oklahoma Sooners have defeated Albany and Dayton in order to earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. In its last game against the Dayton Flyers, Oklahoma found itself down 56-49 with 10 minutes remaining in the second half. Though it looked like trouble for the Sooners, they clawed their way back through pesky defense to take a 60-56 lead with 2 minutes to play. Oklahoma led at the beginning of the game, and Dayton took that lead over in the second half, but this would be the final lead change of the game. An 11-0 run and an eight minute scoring drought for the Flyers led the Sooners to their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2009.

Michigan State defeated Virginia for the second time in the last two NCAA Tournaments. Last time the two teams met, the Spartans took down the 1 seeded Cavaliers in the Sweet Sixteen before falling short of the Final Four to eventual champions Connecticut. A huge key to the Spartans' success so far has been Travis Trice and his impressive play. Trice has scored 15 and 23 in his first two tourney games against Georgia and Virginia respectively, and his ability to lead as a point guard has helped this Spartan team immensely.

Trice and the Spartans will have to look out for Oklahoma's Buddy Hield. He has been consistent with 15 points in each of his last two tournament games, and he leads his team with 17.5 points per game. Though Michigan State has been particularly good on the glass all season long, they may have met their match against the Sooners. Oklahoma averages 38.1 rebounds per game compared to Michigan State's 37.7. The Sooners get 8.0 rebounds per game out of Ryan Spangler who also pulled down 12 in their last win over Dayton. He will likely be matched up against rebounding machine Branden Dawson, who pulls down 9.1 boards per game. This will certainly be an interesting match up to watch, and if one side does a better job utilizing their bigs in the paint and on the glass, then expect that team to have an advantage.

This should be another grind-it-out type game between two tough teams from two power conferences. Michigan State is thought to be under-seeded as a seven seed and many believe that this Spartan team can compete with any team in the nation. That being said, Oklahoma has been a tough team all season and has some high quality wins over some of the best teams from the Big 12. As it could be a showdown between superstars Buddy Hield and Travis Trice, expect the team that gets considerable contributions from other players to prosper in this one.