MSU vs. Northern Iowa Scouting Report and Prediction

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St Louis, MO

 

Cinderella is supposed to be the unexpected and improbable dance date. With the majority of pundits picking UNI I think they are officially off limits to that term and distinction.

 

Sitting courtside watching practice yesterday for Northern Iowa I can attest that they are lose and comfortable. I can also say this. They have to continue to play great to win and when you look at the second week of the dance, the underrated teams traditionally struggle when they come up for air. 

 

There is no disrespect. They are good, but so are the Spartans and they are considerably more deep. MSU is on a mission. This team that struggled to come together all season has found a way after the Big Ten tournament loss.

 

This is a team that left the locker room all year as individuals back to their apartments. This team that didn’t have dislike for one another, but could only be found together on the court found a way to come together.

 

This team that has somehow come together in the tournament time atmosphere that has become MSU basketball has something that UNI doesn’t: Izzo. Tom Izzo is without question the best coach in the dance and his presence is what will make the biggest impact tonight.

 

UNI is big, but when you watch them they do a lot well, but lack greatness at anything. Sure they hit huge shots against Kansas. No doubt, but they played better than they had all season. Can they do it again? Sure. If they do they will win. Will they? I don’t think so.

 

One of the things Izzo has done is keep his team focused. UNI spent the week being interviewed, fawned over, and talked about. They are not used to nor ready for the attention and it shows. They aren’t arrogant, but they are wide eyed.

 

This time of year the team that can handle the distractions and keep normalcy thrives. MSU was used to the attention and you saw them last year overachieve. This year’s team has been told they aren’t expected to win. They know what they are up against. UNI has not played a team that will attack the boards like MSU including Kansas.

 

UNI has not faced a team (including Kansas) that can handle getting down and keep fighting back. Kansas didn’t. I don’t think that UNI can handle the relentless forty minutes, ahead or behind that the Spartans will bring.

 

Ironically if MSU were facing Kansas tonight, minus Lucas I would pick Kansas. Against UNI the Spartans feel disrespected with all the love for their opponent. They feel disrespected that the nation is acting like this team has no players after Kalin.

 

I said against Maryland that a motivated Izzo with a team that is finally listening is dangerous. Against a team with good, but less talent and a good, but less talented coach MSU is the clear favorite.

 

Izzo feels some disrespect for the lack of love for his Spartans. He said as much, “We are still a good program with good players.” No one motivates as good as Izzo and he has the Lucas loss and the national attention on UNI as fuel.

 

Tonight the Spartans move to the elite eight and hopefully a rematch with Ohio State. Make it MSU 66 and UNI 63.