LSU basketball confident as they prepare for Michigan State

LSU Zack Hess gives up the baseball to LSU head coach Paul Mainieri by during the game at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge La. Friday Feb. 15 2019

LSU Zack Hess gives up the baseball to LSU head coach Paul Mainieri by during the game at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge La. Friday Feb. 15 2019

Bet the Michigan State Spartans -6.0 over the LSU Tigers in this game.

Put aside all that talk of a rivalry for a second.

Michigan State recently returned center Nick Ward after a broken hand held him out since late February.

When Virginia Tech faces Duke in the nightcap, it'll be the Hokies' first Sweet 16 game since the field expanded in 1985 to the current format. Forward Naz Reid has chipped in with 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and will need to play well against the Michigan State bigs. Michigan beat Florida 64-49, then Michigan State handled Minnesota 70-50. Michigan State is scoring close to 80 points per game while allowing just 65 per night.

Michigan State has dealt with injuries but still has enough leftover to make a Final Four run. Both will be tested plenty before then, but if they defend as they did last weekend, they can play with anyone.

"I feel like we're just as good as every team here", guard Marlon Taylor said. "We still got a lot more to go. We get more of the ones when it's right at the start of your shot".

Lionel Messi goal voted greatest Barcelona goal of all time 03/29/2019
The worldwide week saw Messi return to duty but he couldn't help Argentina as they lost 3-1 to Venezuela in a friendly. My 6-year-old (asked me) 'Why do they kill you in Argentina, daddy?'" "I tell him that it's just a handful of people".

It was reaching the point where getting this far was hardly a sure thing for a Michigan State team that is playing in its 22nd straight NCAA Tournament, the third-longest active streak behind Kansas (30) and Duke (24).

The numbers at kenpom.com offer some insight into what makes these teams tough.

Xavier Tillman had 14 points, Winston added 13 with nine assists, and the Spartans shot 57.1 percent. The top-seeded Blue Devils survived and advanced in a thrilling 77-76 win over No. 9 UCF on Sunday, while the 4th-seeded Hokies are in their first Sweet 16 in 52 years after edging No. 12 Liberty. Today we'll look at all three teams a little bit and we'll try to figure out what they do.

Listen to "Sweet 16 preview: Michigan, Michigan State and the chase for the Elite Eight" on Spreaker. Minnesota managed to pull within single digits briefly in the second half before Big Ten player of the year Cassius Winston took matters into his hands. Last season, Michigan State led the country in those two categories, but the Spartans lost 6-foot-7 Miles Bridges and 6-foot-11 Jaren Jackson Jr.to the National Basketball Association. Both LSU and Michigan State are led by terrific point guards, and there is plenty of size for each team. It wasn't a ideal game by LSU but it was good enough to beat the Terrapins. Jaren coming back as a ghost or what? The Spartans have been led by Tom Izzo since 1995. "So that was a stat that blew me away that was a really important stat last year, and I didn't think it would be one this year".

Get Michigan State gear atFanatics, Dick's Sporting Goods and Lids. "They work hard. They have given themselves to us coaches and they want to win".

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