US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ, will be the site for the first game in this year’s Sweet 16, as the (4) Louisville Cardinals [+5] look to continue its improbable run by taking out the West region’s top seed, the (1) Michigan State Spartans [-5]. This Sweet 16 bracket predictions battle is scheduled to tipoff Thursday evening at 7:47 PM ET. In addition, 2012 NCAA tournament oddsmakers believe that Louisville and Michigan State are projected to combine and score an OVER/UNDER total of 125 points.
For the Cardinals, this game is all about revenge. The Spartans eliminated the Cardinals the last time they reached the Elite 8 back in 2009 by a score of 52-64. Two wins away from the Final Four, coach Rick Pitino spoke about everything from the disappointment of losing in the conference tournament, to having a healthy roster to work with. Get your Sweet 16 bracket predictions right here!!!
“I’m really delighted because I thought this team had a lot of limitations,” Pitino said. “I wanted to win that Big East tournament in the worst way, because I knew that confidence would grow. … You’ve got Peyton Siva back, we’ve got Russ Smith, we’ve got a terrific guard out of high school coming in, Chane Behanan back, a healthy Wayne Blackshear back. We’re a very young team, although it doesn’t look that way. That’s why I wanted to get to this point and let them feel it right now and now we can go on and make that next run.”
For the Spartans, the Big Ten conference champs would like nothing more than to get back to their winning ways after being eliminated in the first game by UCLA, 76-78. This year’s team is so much more improved because of its ability to adapt to any style of play. As we’ve seen in the 2012 NCAA tournament, MSU can play an up-tempo pace just the same as it can slow it down and play half-court sets, which is something that makes head coach Tom Izzo very pleased.
“Maybe we’ll get a couple teams going up and down,” said Izzo. “But we can play any way, we’ve played any way. That’s been a plus with our program for I think all 15 years (of NCAA Tournament play). We really can play a slugfest or speed. And I do enjoy both. Today I didn’t enjoy the slugfest as much, but when it’s over, it feels pretty good.”
OSH Sweet 16 bracket predictions: Although I like MSU to advance to the Elite 8, I’m going to have to take Louisville’s Sweet Sixteen odds at +5. I think this game will be closer than people anticipate, which may come down to the final possession of the ballgame. Take the Cardinals to lose by less than by or even pull off the huge upset!
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