Final Four Preview and Pick: MSU vs. Uconn

Final Four Preview and Picks
Michigan State (30-6) +4, 133.5 O/U vs. Connecticut Huskies (31-4) -4, 133.5 O/U, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich., Saturday, April 4th, 6:07 PM EST, CBS

by Badger of

The opening game of Saturday nights Final Four college basketball
showcase at Ford Field in Detroit will feature a little bit of home
cooking, when the hometown Michigan State Spartans take on the
Connecticut Huskies.

The atmosphere under the retractable roof of Ford Field may not
approach the love/hate emotional level of that similar to the
Catholics-versus-Convicts days of old, but it certainly will have an
extra edge to it come Saturday.

The Spartans program is run by squeaky-clean head coach Tom Izzo and is located a mere 90 miles away in East Lansing, so they will not
only enjoy the support of the local crowd, but likely the support of
fans from the two other schools involved in Saturdays doubleheader
as well, to make it a packed house for the boys in the Spartan green.

Meanwhile, the Huskies will try and continue to feed off the us
versus the world mentality theyve been rallying behind since the
allegations of recruiting violations surfaced against the team in its
opening round. So far the team has thrived in the role of the hated
enemy, and theres no doubt head coach Jim Calhoun will try and use
the pro-Spartan crowd at Ford Field as motivation for his Huskies

Oddsmakers seem to be aware of the potential home-court advantage as
they opened the game with Connecticut as a modest 4-point favorites,
the lowest point spread the Huskies have been favored by in the
tournament so far. The 4-point number has held firm through early
betting too, as it seems to be balancing the take on both sides so far.

The over/under total is a bet the oddsmaker had to adjust a little
quicker and more often, as early money jumped all over the opening
total of 135, causing it to fall all the way down to its current
level of 133.5 at most sportsbooks. A few of the offshore sportsbooks still list their total at 134, so you can shop around and find a half-
point one way or the other depending on your needs.

As youd expect both teams enter the Final Four hot, on the court and at the window.

As the No.1-seed in the West, Connecticut rolled up some pretty big
scores in the opening rounds (103-47 over Chattanooga, 92-66 over
Texas A&M) and as a result are scoring at a 87.3 points per game
average in the tourney. In the Sweet 16-round the Huskies defense
showed up in a 72-60 victory over Purdue, followed by a near-perfect
game ousting Missouri in the regional final, 82-75.

At the window all four Huskies games in the tournament have covered
the point spread so far, all the way from minus-20 favorites versus
Chattanooga to 6-point favorites over Mizzou. Three of their four
games have gone over the total, with the lowest total (133 vs.
Purdue) out of the four being the lone game not to light up the

Michigan State enters as the No. 2-seed out of the Midwest, fresh of
their biggest and best effort of the season in a 64-52 takedown of
Louisville in the regional finals. One could say the Spartans have
played up to their competition in the tourney so far, as their
77-62 win over Robert Morris and their 74-69 win over USC were
squeakers that shouldnt have been that close.

But then the Spartans had a perfect dream Sweet 16 round, as they
came-from-behind to drop Kansas, 67-62, followed by the win over the
Cardinals nobody thought they could pull off. As a result the
Spartans are also a perfect 4-0 ATS, covering the big number
(minus-14.5 vs. Robert Morris) as well as playing the underdog
(plus-6 vs. Louisville) role.

Badgers Pick
I think this game will ultimately come down to the length and athleticism of UConn forwards Stanley Robinson and Jeff
Adrien. I think Michigan State will be so concerned with stopping
Hasheem Thabeet that Robinson and Adrien will thrive in the paint.
The Spartans defense will make them work for it, but the Huskies will
hit their free throws and easily cover the 4-points with a 73-62 score.

The Oracles Pick
Michigan State took out the top seed in the
tournament, so there is no doubt they can beat anybody that is put in
front of them. They’ve proved a lot of doubters wrong and have
represented the Big 10 well. Tom Izzo will have his guys ready, and
they’ll even have the “home court” advantage. I see the depth of the
Spartans keeping them in this game. UConn has faced some tough
defenses this season, but the Spartans will bring it. Ultimately,
though, it’s not going to be Hasheem Thabeet or A.J. Price that will
make the difference for other Huskies in this one. It’ll be the
underappreciated play of Stanley Robinson and freshman phenom Kimba
Walker that will carry UConn to the win. The Huskies squeak out a win
in the last couple of minutes for a 66-62 victory.

Wilson’s Pick
Hey folks, welcome to the Spartans home away from homeDetroit! This game will be a battle between two storied programs that have been here before. But my money is riding on Michigan State. The Spartans crushed the No. 1 overall seed Louisville and really made a statement heading into this weekends Final Four. Its basically home court advantage for the Spartans and also the thirty year anniversary of their championship over Indiana State as Magic Johnson smiled passed Larry Bird. Spartans 70, Huskies 64!

The Editor’s Pick: I like MSU!