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In the early rounds, filling out your bracket can be easy at times. The 1 seed will advance, 2 seeds will almost always advance and so will the 3 seeds. But when it comes to the 7 vs 10 matchups, it is truly a toss-up.
Michigan State and USC is expected to be another close, solid game. The 10 seeds are 57-87 overall against 7 seeds since 1985. But Big Ten teams have won nine of their last 10 games in the 7 vs 10 matchups.
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Michigan State enters the Big Dance just 3-3 in their last six games. But they have a talented, older roster and have one of the best college basketball coaches ever in Tom Izzo.
The Spartans started the season red-hot with a 12-4 record. Despite losing to Gonzaga, Alabama, and Northwestern, Michigan State was in for another successful season under Izzo.
But they struggled toward the end of the season.
Michigan State went just 7-7 to end the regular season and matched up with Ohio State in the Quarterfinal round. But an under .500 Buckeyes team owned the Spartans from the jump, and they finished the season with a 19-12 record and an 11-8 record in the Big Ten.
The Spartans haven’t played consistently great basketball in months and have been unranked for weeks now. But having two 14-plus scorers in seniors Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser can help them big time in the Tournament.
Michigan State went 5-9 in Quad 1 and 8-2 in Quad 2 results this season.
Michigan State doesn’t average many points per game, but they are highly efficient from the three-point range. The Spartans rank third in all Division I with a 40.1% three-point percentage.
The Spartans have three players that shoot over 42% from three. Walker averages 14.6 points per game on 42.3% from three on the season. The senior guard has scored in double figures in nine straight games and hit at least one three in eight of those games.
Hauser, though, is probably the team’s best shooter. The senior forward has hit 3-plus threes in six of his last eight games, including two six made three performances during that stretch. He averages 14.2 points on 48.9% shooting from the field and 45.6% from distance.
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The Trojans come into the Round of 64 with high-scoring numbers in their past six games but are also losers of two of their last three contests.
Still, USC has been a solid team in a tough Pac-12 Conference. After losing a brutal home game against Florida Gulf Coast to begin the year, they bounced back and showed their potential.
They have had solid wins against Auburn, UCLA, and Arizona State twice. But also suffered bad losses to FGCU, Washington State, and Oregon State.
USC hasn’t been consistent all season, though, having two seniors in Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson should help them in the NCAA Tournament. They also have the size inside with six players at least 6-foot-8. That helped the Trojans finish eighth nationally with 5.2 blocks per game.
The Trojans went 3-6 in Quad 1 games and 7-2 in Quad 2 results on the year. USC finished the year with a 22-10 record and 14-6 in the Pac-12.
USC can score points and have two players that average more than 14 points per game, Eillis and Peterson.
Ellis is the more dynamic scorer of the two after averaging a career-high 18 points per game. The former Memphis guard is a threat on offense, and the team rides through him. When he scores less than 15 points this year, USC is 8-6. When he scores above that mark, the Trojans are 14-4.
USC can win without him, but when Ellis is on so is the rest of the team.
The Trojans have five players who average at least nine points per game. The most impactful non-scorer for USC is Joshua Morgan. The 6-foot-11 center pulls down 5.2 rebounds a game and leads the team with 2.3 blocked shots per game.
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The 7 vs 10 seed games are always hard to predict and can go either way. Michigan State enters the game as a 2-point favorite over USC.
This game will be a tough one to pick because of how similar these teams are. They are both led by two senior 14-plus scorers with college basketball experience.
They both come in the 40 range in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.
Michigan State comes in at 41 on offense and 40 on defense. USC is 43 on offense and 48 on defense.
One thing, though, will decide this matchup between Michigan State and USC: defense.
Michigan State doesn’t shoot many threes, but when they do, they go in. The Spartans average just 7.6 three-point shots per game and shoot a high percentage. They also shoot 45% as a team and turn over the ball just 10.9 times on average.
On defense, USC is elite in terms of stocks (steals and blocks). They average 12.2 in that category per game compared to Michigan State’s 7.5 -- 4.6 steals and 2.9 blocks. But the Trojans turn over the ball quite a bit, entering the NCAA Tournament with 12.5 per game.
Location: Columbus, Ohio @Nationwide Arena
Game Time & Date: 3/17 @12:15 p.m ET
TV Network: CBS
Streaming: CBS Sports App, Paramount+, March Madness Live App
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I am a huge sports fan; locally, many know me as the guy who does the PA for our high school football team on Friday nights. Having grown up in Michigan, I am a sports fan of all the Detroit teams, and at the college level, I love Michigan State sports.More info on Caleb Tallman
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