Before the Elite Eight meeting with Missouri, UConn coach
Neither club is a top-10 offensive team in terms of efficiency, mostly because neither team shoots the ball well enough. Their approaches aren't too dissimilar, though. UConn is more dangerous inside the arc, MSU is better outside it. Both teams love to pound the offensive glass and get to the free throw line.
The marked advantage for UConn comes on the defensive end, principally because of 7-3 swatter
Michigan State may be the best rebounding team in the nation, all things considered, as the Spartans rank fifth in offensive rebounding rate and seventh in defensive rate. That said, they're running into a team that's almost as imposing on the glass and is very stingy defensively. Finding a way to score enough easy points may be Michigan State's biggest problem. The Spartans' two-point field goal shooting (and defense, too) is well outside the top 100, which would be extremely unusual for a national champion.
Michigan State played nine games of comparable quality this season, although only two (North Carolina and Louisville) are really comparable to UConn. The Spartans (without
The teams that had the most success against UConn were the ones who could hurt the Huskies on the offensive glass, and Michigan State clearly is capable of that. The Spartans also have solid guard play and agile big men who can pull Thabeet away from the rim.
Three of the Huskies' four losses came after
Michigan State was all over the map with its defeats. Two came without center
The flip side to that is that when MSU is good, they can be very good and they usually close games out solidly. Which Spartans team will show up Saturday? They certainly have enough quality bodies to throw at the Huskies inside and out, and they have talent in spots that could give UConn some trouble. Suton played his best ball of the season in last week's regional and possesses the type of shooting ability that could force Thabeet to come out of his comfort zone in the lane and guard him. The matchup between Big Ten player of the year
UConn better be ready to get strapped in. Pitt showed it's possible to push around the Huskies with success, and Michigan State is not afraid of physicality. UConn is the more talented team and the more statistically proficient team, but you suspect that Michigan State will be able to get this game into a style and tempo it prefers. You also need to factor in what should be a heavily pro-Spartans crowd in Detroit. In the end, though, the Spartans might not find a way to score enough points. UConn has more solid offensive options ... and it also has Thabeet.