Michigan State Sends Home Northern Iowa To Advance To Elite Eight, 59-52

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Michigan State 59, Northern Iowa 52: Spartans Shut Down Panthers In Final Minutes

Read more at our Michigan State blog, The Only Colors.

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Durrell Summers had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead Michigan State past ninth-seeded Northern Iowa, 59-52, in the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for a spot amongst the final eight.

Korie Lucious and Raymar Morgan hit consecutive jumpers to spark a defining 8-1 surge over the final 2:19 for the fifth-seeded Spartans (27-8), who have won seven of their last eight bouts held in the round of 16.

Lucious contributed 10 points, six boards, four assists and four steals, while Morgan came up with seven points for the victors, who advanced to Sunday's regional final against Tennessee. The Volunteers bounced second-seeded Ohio State from the tourney in the other semi earlier Friday.

Adam Koch scored 13 points and Kwadzo Ahelegbe added 12 for the Panthers (30-5), who hadn't won an NCAA Tournament game in 20 years prior to their run through to the round of 16.

Ali Farokhmanesh and Jordan Eglseder came away with nine points each, but Northern Iowa shot just 38.6 percent from the floor to fall short of notching a second stunner against a perennial tourney-tested program.

NIU had pulled off a second-round 69-67 shocker over top-seeded Kansas to set up its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.

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Northern Iowa vs. Michigan State: Spartans Attempt To Stop The Team That Ruined Your Bracket

 

Road to the Regional
Panthers: Defeated UNLV, 69-66, and Kansas, 69-67
Spartans: Defeated New Mexico State, 70-67, and Maryland, 85-83

The storylines here are pretty obvious. How will Northern Iowa respond to the spotlight that has suddenly enveloped them since Saturday's stunning win over Kansas? And, how will Michigan State play without Kalin Lucasout with a torn Achilles tendon? The Panthers are known for being a smart, steady team with a consistent temperament. Will this change after a week in the national limelight?

UNI isn't a hot shooting team, as they didn't break 45 percent in either of their first two games. But they are timely in their makes (Ali Farokhmanesh, anyone?) and deadly from the foul line. Our Michigan State blog, The Only Colors, says the Panthers resemble one of the Spartans' most familiar foes.

This is a deep, balanced, veteran team. But their offensive numbers don't exactly leap off the page. That's partly a function of the fact UNI plays the game of basketball at a glacially slow pace--59 possessions per game. That's good for 3rd slowest in the country. Even Wisconsin plays with (slightly) more hop in their step than these guys do.

Like Wisconsin, the Panthers' clear offensive strength is taking care of the ball. They've turned it over on just 18.0% of possessions this season.

For the Spartans, Korie Lucious is a question mark, even with his game winner against Maryland on Sunday. He struggled in the one game he started in place of Lucas, February 6th at Illinois (4 points, 3 assists, 6 turnovers), and the team has been inconsistent lately period. The win against the Aggies was due to their ability to get to the free throw line more often than their opponent, a mistake Northern Iowa isn't likely to make. The victory against the Terps could have been a loss had Maryland converted on more of the Spartans' 18 turnovers. With a lack of backcourt depth and the ballhandling that inevitably result, the Spartans could give the Panthers extra chances to score or run down the clock.

My pick: Northern Iowa

Read more at our Michigan State blog, The Only Colors.

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