Michigan State vs Middle Tennessee preview, predictions and more

Take a look at everything you need to know for Friday’s Michigan State vs Middle Tennessee game.

Michigan State and Middle Tennessee will be facing off in one of the more underrated matchups of the first round. Sure, the Spartans are heavily favored, but you can never count out a Cinderella-hopeful like the Blue Raiders.

The Spartans will be out to prove that they deserved a No. 1 seed over teams like Oregon and Virginia by taking out their anger on the Blue Raiders while Middle Tennessee just wants to show that it belongs in the field of 64 and their Conference-USA Tournament title was no fluke.

Denzel Valentine will be the star to watch on the Spartans’ side of things while Giddy Potts, a member of the all-name team, will be Middle Tennessee’s top dog.

Details for Friday’s Michigan State vs Middle Tennessee game are below:

Date: Friday, March 18
Start Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Location: St. Louis, MO
Stadium: Scottrade Center
TV Info: CBS
Live StreamMarch Madness Live
Radio: For Middle Tennessee radio affiliates, click here. For Michigan State radio affiliates, click here.

Three Keys to Victory

Mar 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) makes a pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Conference tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Guard the perimeter. Middle Tennessee is a strong shooting team. The Blue Raiders hit about 39 percent of their three-point shots and if you ever take a look at major upsets in March Madness, it usually is due to poor defending on the perimeter, leading to wide open threes for the underdog.
  2. Ball movement. There’s no doubting that Michigan State is a much more successful team when it passes the ball around and ends up with an easy, uncontested jumper or layup. The Spartans are the top assist team in college basketball and will need to continue that trend.
  3. Fast-break buckets. Get out and run. Michigan State needs to find the outlet, push the pace and get easy transition buckets. Teams who win the transition battle usually come out on top. Make the Blue Raiders uncomfortable early and often with speed.

Three Storylines to Watch

Mar 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) talks with forward Gavin Schilling (34) during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men

  1. Post play. How often do the Spartan utilize the size advantage with Deyonta Davis and Matt Costello in the post?
  2. Bryn Forbes’ shooting stroke. It will be imperative that the Spartans make sure to get Bryn Forbes back in rhythm for a deep tournament run. He was cold from the three-point line in the Big Ten Tournament, making just 4-of-17.
  3. Triple-double. I have this as a storyline to follow almost every game and it’s because I truly believe Denzel Valentine will record at least one more triple-double before the season ends. Will it be against Middle Tennessee?

Betting Odds

Point Spread: Michigan State -18

Middle Tennessee Players to Watch

  • Giddy Potts – 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 50% 3-point shooting
  • Reggie Upshaw – 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 51% FG shooting
  • Perrin Buford – 12.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 52% FG shooting
  • Darnell Harris – 11.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 40% 3-point shooting

Prediction

As long as Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes can hit their stride early, there should be no reason the Spartans come even close to losing. The Blue Raiders will keep it close for a chunk of the first half thanks to the three-point shot, but the Spartans will stretch the lead to double digits by halftime.

Final Score: Middle Tennessee 61, Michigan State 81

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