Coaching, experience helps give MSU edge in second-round game
Tampa, Fla. — Following a stressful selection show last Sunday, the No. 10 seed MSU men’s basketball team is set to take on No. 7 seed UCLA at 9:20 p.m. tonight.
Thursday will be the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the teams. Here’s a look at how the Spartans and Bruins match up.
Senior guard Kalin Lucas comes into the tournament playing some of the best basketball of his four-year career at MSU. Averaging more than 20 points in the last 14 games, Lucas has been a force as he finishes his career.
UCLA has a nice group of guards, led by first team All-Pac-10 performer Malcolm Lee.
The Bruins possess two first team All-Pac-10 players in their frontcourt in forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson. Both players average at least 12 points and seven rebounds.
As a freshman, 6-foot-10, 305-pound forward Joshua Smith has given the Bruins more than 10 points per game off the bench this season, leading a group of talented backups. The Spartans’ bench hasn’t been too bad either, stepping up in big moments at various times this season.
Experience is key once the tournament rolls around, and experience is one thing MSU has in abundance.
Eight Spartans have played in at least one Final Four, and six have played in the last two.
Spartan head coach Tom Izzo and UCLA’s Ben Howland have similar coaching styles. Both emphasize defense, toughness and transition scoring to their players.
However, when it comes to March, Izzo’s favorite time of the year, few coaches in the country are as successful as MSU’s 16-year head coach.