For this young Michigan State team, though, it will take a herculean effort to upset the Jayhawks who are considered one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. Miles Bridges scored 18 points and led Michigan State with nine rebounds.
"I think we play better as the underdog", Bridges said. Miami went 10-8 in the ACC this season and is just 11-19 against the spread. "When we feed off of each other, we're hard to beat".
This time, the Spartans flipped the script. The Jayhawks allow 72.1 points per game, but some of that is a byproduct of their high-scoring ways as they can be suffocating at times. His final field goal of the game appeared to seal the victory for MI, as he rolled in a 17-foot jumper that gave MI a 86-79 lead with 52.6 seconds remaining.
It didn't take long for KU to get its shot at revenge in the NCAA Tournament, as the teams were matched up in the Midwest Region as the two and three seeds to top-seeded Louisville. The Maize and Blue also ranks sixth in the country in fewest fouls, committing just 15.1 per game and 11th nationally in free throw percentage, shooting a school-record 77.5 percent from the charity stripe.
"I can use a lot from last year's loss", Izzo said.
The Kansas Jayhawks are one step away from advancing into the Sweet 16 but more important is the fact that the Jayhawks would be playing at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, which means that they would basically play at home.
This is Michigan State's 31 NCAA Tournament appearance.
Evans threw in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a one-point loss for the Cowboys - which blew the cover from MI bettors, who were laying 2.5 points.
Penn State opened the scoring with a power-play tally as freshman Brandon Biro skated behind the MI net and fed classmate Liam Folkes on the left side of the crease for the 1-0 lead at 10:50.
Wilson finished with 19 points (6-12 FG, 6-6 FT), five rebounds and four blocked shots.
The Nittany Lions extended the lead as freshman Denis Smirnov skated through the right slot and fed a backhand pass across ice to find classmate Nate Sucese for the backdoor tap-in at 13:24 for the 2-0 lead. He said he and his fellow seniors learned from players who came before them, guys who made it to Final Fours in 2014 and '15.
And while a key hustle play, clutch adjustment or subtle benefit from a little extra attention to the scouting report and tendencies of an opponent can help decide games such as these, most of the time, more than words or thoughts or strategies or breakdowns, the games are decided by the numbers.
Watch the Spartans at 9:20 p.m. on TNT television.
It is going to be tough for Michigan State to hang with Kansas for a full 40 minutes.
Both teams in the second half were efficient as they could be at taking care of the ball. Michigan State defeated Miami 78-58.
This is how quickly your luck can chance in Las Vegas when wagering on the NCAA Tournament.