Tennessee vs Michigan State
It’s a bracket-busting matchup in the Midwest Region in the Elite Eight, as No. 6 Tennessee takes on No. 5 Michigan State.
The Volunteers rolled into the Elite Eight after upsetting No. 2 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16. Tennessee was a 4.5-point underdog at Bovada, but delivered the knockout blow to Evan Turner and the Buckeyes with a 76-73 win.
Turner had a huge game for the Buckeyes with 31 points, but he didn’t get enough help from the rest of the Ohio State roster to match the Volunteers’ team effort. The only other Buckeye to score in double figures was William Buford with 15 points. Turner had a chance to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, but J.P. Prince came up with a timely block to secure the win for Tennessee.
Wayne Chism led Tennessee with 22 points and 11 rebounds, with 18 of his points coming in the second half. Chism’s offensive explosion in the second half allowed the Vols to erase a three-point halftime deficit. Prince added 14 points for the Vols and Brian Williams chipped in with nine points and 12 rebounds.
The Spartans took on upset-specialists Northern Iowa in the Sweet 16 with leading scorer Kalin Lucas watching from the sidelines due to injury. Even without Lucas the Spartans got it done in a 59-52 win as 1.5-point favorites to return to the Elite Eight.
Like Tennessee, the Spartans also trailed at halftime, down seven to the Panthers. A pep talk from head coach Tom Izzo at the half and a better approach to the Panthers’ hard-edged play pushed the Spartans back from the brink and to the win. Durrell Summers netted a game-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds and Lucas’ replacement in the starting lineup, Korie Lucious, delivered 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Northern Iowa’s troubles at the foul line may have cost them a shot at the Elite Eight. The Panthers shot over 80% from the charity stripe in their first two wins in the tournament, but slumped to only 66% (14-of-21) against the Spartans.
Tennessee is making their first-ever trip to the Elite Eight; their five previous appearances in the Sweet 16 all ended in losses. Michigan State should be familiar with the Elite Eight, as they made it here last year on their way to finishing as runner-up to tournament winner North Carolina. In 10 overall appearances in the Elite Eight the Spartans are 7-3 SU.