PREVIEW: MSU faces No. 1 Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
TULSA, Okla. — In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 9 seed MSU will face No. 1 seed Kansas at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
The Spartans are riding a dominant 20-point victory against the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes. Kansas, as the top-seed in the Midwest, faced UC Davis in the first round and won by 38 points, 100-62.
The two teams will play at 5:15 p.m. EST on CBS Sports. The winner will advance to the Sweet Sixteen to play No. 4 Purdue.
Here is a glance at the two teams:
|Points per game||71.9||83.2|
|Rebounds per game||36.7||39.0|
|Assists per game||17.0||16.4|
The history of the Jayhawks basketball dominance began in 1898 when Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, was hired by the university as the chapel director and physical education instructor.
Since then, the Jayhawks have reached the Final Four 14 times and have cut down the championship nets three times.
The leading scorer for Kansas is senior guard Frank Mason III with 20.8 points per game. Mason was unanimously selected as the Big 12 Player of the Year for the Jayhawks, a team that has won the regular season Big 12 title for 13 straight seasons.
Their head coach Bill Self was named Coach of the Year in the Big 12 after a regular season record of 28-3.
"Well, obviously a quick turnaround for everybody that has a chance to advance, and I'm certainly looking forward to the opportunity to play a terrific Michigan State team and program and coach," Self said. "And certainly one that when I saw the initial bracket and I'm seeing Michigan State in the 8-9 game, I'm going 'What kind of joke is this?' Because when they play like they did last night, they're playing to a very, very, very high seed. They were terrific."
Kansas also has a freshman superstar in Josh Jackson.
Jackson currently sits second on the team in points and rebounds with 16.4 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game. The Detroit native was highly recruited by MSU and is good friends with many MSU players, however selected Kansas.
His abilities mirror those of MSU freshman forward Miles Brides.
Jackson was unanimously selected as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
Bridges and Jackson match-up:
|Points per game||16.7||16.4|
|Rebounds per game||8.3||7.2|
|Assists per game||2.1||3.0|
|Blocks per game||1.6||1.1|
|Steals per game||0.7||1.6|
|Field goal percentage||.487|| .515|
"I think we play better as the underdog," Bridges said. "It just gives us more fuel to our fire. We play with more intensity, more energy, and we're not satisfied with anything. So that's why I think we play better."
The Jayhawks have a deadly fast break, however lack some interior size. If there is an area to hurt Kansas, it is with freshman forward Nick Ward in the low post.
The Spartans own the all-time record against Kansas, 7-5, including a 1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament. The last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament was in 2009, when MSU defeated Kansas in the Regional Semifinal In Indianapolis, 67-62.
The last time these two teams played was at the 2015 Champions Classic in Chicago. MSU defeated Kansas, 79-73, behind a triple-double by former Spartan Denzel Valentine — 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Former Jayhawk Perry Ellis scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Jayhawks, Mason had 14 points and five assists.
Projected Starting Line-ups:
Junior guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.
Freshman guard Joshua Langford
Senior guard Alvin Ellis III
Freshman forward Miles Bridges (Big Ten Freshman of the Year)
Freshman forward Nick Ward
Senior guard Frank Mason III (Big 12 Player of the Year)
Junior guard Devonte’ Graham (All-Big 12 Second Team)
Junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Freshman forward Josh Jackson (Big 12 Freshman of the Year)
Senior forward Landen Lucas
“I would say that every game in the tournament, we can get excited about," Kansas' Landen Lucas said. "When it is a team with a name like Michigan State, I think it just makes it even more special. From the tip, I think it is going to feel like every possession is the most important one.”