Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament East Elite Eight Game Breakdown

East Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown


#4 Louisville vs. #7 Michigan State (Syracuse, New York)

Louisville went into the halftime locker room down by two points to North Carolina State and people around the nation were asking themselves if the Wolfpack could finish the job and end the Cardinals season. Not so fast…Louisville came out in the second half and put the hammer down and pulled away for a 75-65 victory. Montrezl Harrell led the way for the Cardinals, scoring 24 points and collecting seven rebounds to go along with four assists. Terry Rozier had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Anton Gill, who came off the bench, scored seven points and had two key steals. This performance by Louisville was another great example of how it does not matter how you start a season but instead it’s about how you are playing in March. The Cardinals are without question playing their best basketball of the season. Now, heading into this Elite Eight matchup with Michigan State, free-throw shooting is going to be a critical thing to watch as Louisville only shot 66.7 percent from the foul line against North Carolina State on Friday night.

Michigan State overcame what Coach Tom Izzo referred to as an embarrassing effort to CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce coming out of the halftime locker room and defeated Oklahoma 62-58 to advance to the Elite Eight. Travis Trice scored 24 points to pace the Spartans and Denzel Valentine scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half to help Michigan State secure victory over the Sooners. Branden Dawson was dominant inside with 11 rebounds and, in order for the Spartans to move on to the Final Four, he is going to have to have a similar performance on Sunday against the Cardinals. In addition, with this game expected to be close, the free shooting struggles that Michigan State had against Oklahoma can’t continue against Louisville. The Spartans shot just over 56 percent from the charity stripe and that will cost them on Sunday as points will, without question, be at a premium. The bench for Michigan State also had an off night as they only contributed six points. But what is encouraging is that the Spartans still found a way to win in spite of their struggles off of the bench.

The keys for Louisville are going to be to get out of the blocks fast and impose their will on the Spartans defensively with their pressure. If the Cardinals can generate a few easy baskets early, that will boost their overall confidence and they will be able to settle into their rhythm offensively. Montrezl Harrell is going to have to neutralize Branden Dawson on the boards and try to get him into early foul trouble to force Tom Izzo to go to his bench early. Terry Rozier is going to have to continue to have a great NCAA Tournament and get tolling early offensively and stay relentless rebounding the basketball. For Michigan State their effort at both ends of the floor will set the tone early. It is also going to be critical for the Spartans to manage the pace of the game and take care of the basketball. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine have the experience to mitigate the pressure of the Cardinals defense and, as long as they take care of the basketball, they will get chances for quality shots. This game will be a grind it out affair probably in the low 60’s and with the way Louisville and Michigan State are playing, this should be a last possession wins type of affair that will keep the nation on the edge of their seats for 40 minutes.


Tournament Central