Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Michigan State Spartans: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines, IA, USA.

When: Saturday, March 23rd at 7:45pm EST.

How (TV/Radio): CBS; March Madness Live Stream on ncaa.com

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Head Coach: Richard Pitino {Overall: 22-13, .629 W-L% | Conference: 9-11, 7th in Big Ten}

The Gophers are coming off their first tournament win in the Richard Pitino era, eliminating Louisville in the process. Minnesota beat the 7-seed Cardinals 86-76 behind Gabe Kalsheur’s 24 points on 5 of 11 shooting from deep. The team’s leading scorers for the season, Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy, each finished with 18 points in the win.

Minnesota will face a step up in competition, facing a Spartan team that won the Big Ten Tournament and shared the regular season title with Purdue. Although the Gophers lost 79-55 to MSU in their lone meeting this season on February 9th, they have managed to beat Sparty in their last neutral site meeting. That victory came two seasons ago in the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C.

If the Gophers have any hopes of an upset, they will need to address their performance on the boards where they rank 290th in the nation. This will be a critical point of emphasis against the Spartans who rank second in the country in rebounding.

Michigan State Spartans

Head Coach: Tom Izzo {Overall: 29-6, .829 W-L% | Conference: 16-4, T-1st in Big Ten}

Michigan State enters this contest having survived a tough battle against Bradley in the first round. The Spartans were able to keep the Braves at bay, winning 76-65, with junior point guard Cassius Winston leading all scorers with 26 points. Sophomore forward Xavier Tillman put up a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

The Spartans will hope to repeat their February 9th win over Minnesota, in which junior forward Nick Ward dominated the paint to the tune of 22 points and 9 rebounds. Senior sharpshooter Matt McQuaid was on the mark in this game, hitting 4 of 6 from three as part of an 18 point, 8 assist performance.

Minnesota Roster Notes

Sophomore center Eric Curry is out for the season due to a foot injury suffered on March 5th.

Sophomore guard Marcus Carr is out indefinitely due to eligibility concerns, and has not played at all this season.

Senior center Matz Stockman is questionable to play after suffering a concussion on Thursday against Louisville.

Michigan State Roster Notes

Junior guard Joshua Langford is out for the season with an ankle injury suffered against Illinois on December 29th.

Junior guard Kyle Ahrens is out indefinitely with an ankle injury suffered against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final on March 17th.

Head-to-Head: Daniel Oturu vs Nick Ward

Daniel Oturu

Center | 6-10, 225lb (208cm, 102kg) | Cretin-Derham Hall HS | Woodbury, MN | Freshman

10.9 PPG | 0.6 APG | 7.1 RPG | 0.4 SPG | 1.4 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .548 FG% | 1.000 3P%

Nick Ward

Power Forward | 6-9, 245lb (206cm, 111kg) | Lincoln HS | Gahanna, OH | Junior

13.8 PPG | 0.8 APG | 6.1 RPG | 0.4 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 2.1 TOV | .594 FG% | 1.000 3P%

With traditional big men becoming dinosaurs, match-ups like this one can be hard to come by. Both of the interior players in this match-up earn their keep around the basket, almost never retreating to the perimeter like most taller players in this era.

Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu has adjusted quickly to the college game, having started all but four games for the Gophers as a freshman. Oturu’s ability to crash the boards on offense has made him a key asset for coach Pitino, as the Big Ten’s fourth ranked offensive rebounder has allowed shooters like Gabe Kalscheur to get open looks.

A solid rebounder in his own right, Nick Ward has put together another strong season after withdrawing from the 2018 NBA draft. Ward has taken on a larger scoring load this season with Miles Bridges now playing for the Charlotte Hornets. The Spartans’ increased reliance on Ward has been noticeable, as evidenced by his 31.3% usage rate which ranks third in the Big Ten. The Ohio native has also maintained his ability to draw fouls, as he has ranked top ten in the conference in free throw attempts in each of his three seasons in East Lansing.

Minnesota vs Michigan State Predictions and Odds

The Spartans are expected to win comfortably against Minnesota as 10 point favourites according to oddsmakers. The over/under consensus amongst sportsbooks is currently at 142.