The last time Louisville and Michigan State played was in 2009 in Indianapolis — the winner got to move on to Detroit for the Final Four.
Spartan fans know exactly how that story ended.
But how did a No. 2 seed in Michigan State take out a No. 1 seed in Louisville? Well, the Spartans simple beat the high-energy press and smacked them in the mouth. It’s really that simple.
On Wednesday in Phoenix, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said he has not talked to his team about that game as motivation for upending the Spartans.
“We had two lottery picks back then,” Pitino said. “And it’s a totally different team. They’re a totally different team. We run totally different things today, so we haven’t referenced it at all.”
And that is what should make the Spartans have some doubt. MSU didn’t have any high draft picks on that team in 2009 (or the 2010 Final Four team) and that sometimes is not nessasary for a Final Four run.
But this Louisville team has is a solid core of players who have one goal — they are a lot like MSU in that respect.
They play a slew of role players who all need to contribute — just like the Spartans.
“We’re able to press more and able to get on the break and able to run,” point guard Peyton Siva said. “We know we have fresh bodies to come in and give us a break, instead of slowing you down and running a half-court offense. Everybody has been scoring, everybody has been getting more steals, more rebounds, more blocks. It’s really been helping our teammates in getting confidence for everybody.”
Today’s game won’t be won by the best team on the court, it will be won by the team that plays the best as a team.
As for the Spartans, they will look to Keith Appling and Travis Trice to break the press and get the ball up court, which could lead to several easy baskets if done right.
“They’re a pretty scrappy team.,” Appling said. “They’re going to cause a lot of turnovers. We’re going to have to keep our composure, and get to their offense as fast as we can.”
No. 1 seed Michigan State (29-7) vs. No. 4 seed Louisville (28-9)
- Where: Phoenix
- TV: TBS
- Time: 7:47 p.m. ET
- Line: Spartans by 4.5 points
- Prediction: Michigan State 66, Louisville 61