#3 LSU vs. #2 Michigan State Sweet Sixteen Preview

By College Basketball

Michigan State has been getting the action all week and LSU hit +6.5 today. We’re just five hours from tip so I’m going to make this one quick.

MSU last played Saturday so it’s had a full five days off, which helps 1) Cassius Winston’s legs and 2) Nick Ward’s conditioning. We’re no longer at the point where an extended break will help Kyle Ahrens, who is in a walking boot and won’t play again this season. 

Winston has carried the load all season but scored only 13 against Minnesota. On fresh legs, I expect him to go off tonight. Ward played 20 minutes against the Golden Gophers and could be in for more as he gets closer to 100 percent.

Michigan State has the best player on the floor and the better team structure and synergy, which explains why the Spartans are your favorites. But I can’t help but feel like LSU has a darn good shot at winning this game for the simple reason that it has size, strength, and athleticism at every position, more than Michigan State does.

Tremont Waters and Skylar Mays are big-time scorers. Cassius Winston, for as much as he has an advantage on offense, will be pushed on defense. Freshman Aaron Henry may have to defend the other. I have a tough time seeing how Matt McQuaid impacts this game, unless he’s getting open on the perimeter and hitting.

Xavier Tillman has turned into the MVP of Winston’s supporting cast. He’s playing tremendous defense, passing, scoring, rebounding, and making the game fun for his team. He and Kenny Goins will be undersized against Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams, though. It’s not that I doubt Tillman and Goins will hold their own, it’s just that it feels like they are the underdogs going up against the raw physical ability of the two LSU bigs.

That’s sort of how the game feels on the whole. I don’t doubt Michigan State’s team but I also believe LSU could win this game and leave us feeling like it was definitely the better team. Michigan State will surely be prepared for battle but for it to win, it will be just that. Winston will probably give his team 25 but the supporting cast may still have to chip in another 50 because LSU is going to score the ball.

Play: LSU +6.5

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