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Nuts & Bolts Preview: Kansas vs. Michigan State NCAA Sweet 16

NCAA Championship Sweet 16

Coming off a 60-43 win against Dayton Sunday, No. 3 seed Kansas (27-7, 14-2 Big 12) will face No. 2 seed Michigan State (28-6, 15-3 Big Ten) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday, March 29, at approximately 8:45 p.m. (Central). KU is making its third straight and 26th overall Sweet 16 appearance with an 18-7 record in those contests. Michigan State has won eight of its last nine games after its 74-69 win against USC Sunday. This is a battle of two regular season champions as Kansas won its fifth straight, ninth Big 12 and 52nd overall title with a 14-2 conference record. Michigan State won its 11th Big Ten Championship, fifth outright, with a 15-3 record. This is also a regular-season rematch as MSU defeated KU 75-62 on Jan. 10 in East Lansing, Mich.

Denver's Thoughts...

Ok so maybe it's a bit early but what the hell else are we all thinking about.  Let's get it out there and start talking Michigan State.  Besides tomorrow we'll all start watching games again so why not get a little preview of ours in the mix.

When these two teams met in January it was a very different game.  Kansas was young on the road and many expected them to be over matched.  A few short months later and you've got the Big 12 champs and the Big 10 champs preparing to slug it out for a trip to the Elite Eight.  As far as Michigan State goes not a whole lot has changed.  They are still a confident team, still a physical team and still one of the stronger opponents the Jayhawks will have faced this year.  The one difference might be that Michigan State is once again fully healthy after stretches in the regular season battling various injuries on the roster.  Oh and one more thing Tom Izzo is still one of the best tourney coaches in recent memory and seems to always have his teams playing good ball in March. 

All that said a lot has changed for Kansas.  The team is riding high after exceeding expectations this season.  Coach Self has shortened the bench and settled on a rotation whereas last game he was still very much experimenting.  The Morris twins, specifically Marcus, along with Mario Little have emerged as contributors in the eight man rotation and were virtually non-existent in the first match up.  Tyshawn Taylor was worth only 2 points and not much else in the first go around and has improved immensly over the conference schedule.  Finally, this one is a neutral court and not in Breslin Center.  Will it be enough, I feel like we've got a good shot.  Revenge, tourney determination and Sherron Collins can squeek this one out but it will be no small task.  I look for a Kansas victory in a nail biter here, or at least that's what I hope.

Score Prediction: Kansas 72 Michigan St 68

Team Stat Comparison

KU 76.8 47.8 72.3 37.3 42.1 12.0 27.2 16.0 14.4 6.8 4.4 19.0
MSU 72.1 45.4 69.1 35.4 42.4 14.0 25.1 16.0 14.0 6.4 2.8 18.9
KU Opponents 65.4 38.3 72.1 33.4 35.0 11.1 20.9 12.4 13.5 7.1 3.3 20.2
MSU Opponents 63.1 41.4 70.0 31.6 32.9 8.9 20.1 11.6 13.6 5.9 3.4 20.1


Full Preview as well as some interesting info on KU triple doubles after the jump...


Ranks and Record

Rank and Records KU
RPI #11
Strength of Schedule #20
Overall 25-7
Conference 14-2
Home 18-1
Away 6-4
Top 25 3-2
RPI Top 50 9-3

About Kansas

No. 14/13 Kansas has won eight of its last 10 games heading into the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks are the defending NCAA National Champions, yet return less than 20 percent of all but one statistical category.

The Jayhawks are averaging 76.8 points per game and giving up 65.4 for a +11.4 scoring margin. The Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the field against North Dakota State (March 20) to mark the 16th time this season KU has shot 50 percent or better. Conversely, KU leads the Big 12, and is sixth nationally, in field goal percentage defense at 38.3 percent and has held 72 consecutive opponents to under 50 percent shooting from the field dating back to the second game of its 2007-08 NCAA National Championship season.

About Michigan State

No. 8/12 Michigan State is coming off a 74-69 win against USC on Sunday. The Spartans defeated Robert Morris 77-62 in the NCAA opener on Friday and, like Kansas, played both games in the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis. MSU is 28-6 on the season, and won its 11th Big Ten regular-season title with a 15-3 record. MSU lost in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament to Ohio State (82-70). Michigan State has been ranked in the top 10 on 13 occasions this season, including a current No. 8 ranking by the Associated Press and No. 7 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. MSU is averaging 72.1 points per game and giving up 63.1 for a +9.1 scoring margin. The Spartans lead the nation in rebound margin at +10.1 (39.1 to 29.0) and also average 16 assists per game. Sophomore guard Kalin Lucas leads the team with a 14.6 scoring average. The Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, Lucas has a team-high 152 assists and is second on the squad with 34 steals and an 81 percent free throw percentage. Junior forward Raymar Morgan is next in scoring at 10.7 points per game and he is second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per contest. Senior center Goran Suton leads MSU with 8.3 rebounds per game to complement his 9.8 scoring average. He is making 86.1 percent from the free throw line. Sophomore guard Chris Allen has made a team-best 51 three pointers and is scoring 9.0 points per game. Sophomore guard Durrell Summers comes off the bench to score 8.3 points per outing, while senior guard Travis Walton (5.3 ppg) is a starter who is second on the team with 109 assists. Freshman forward Delvon Roe (6.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has a team-best 26 blocked shots. Senior forward Marquise Gray (3.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg), freshman guard Korie Lucious (3.0 ppg) and freshman forward Draymond Green (2.8 ppg) average more than nine minutes per game for the Spartans.

Kansas-Michigan State Series

Kansas and Michigan State are tied at 4-4 in a series that dates back to 1960. Earlier this season, then-No. 8 Michigan State evened the series with Kansas with a 75-62 win in the Jayhawks' final non-conference game of the regular season on Jan. 10 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. Kansas' Sherron Collins led all scorers with 25 points, while Cole Aldrich posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The first half was all Spartans as they led by 19 points, 37-18, at intermission. KU outscored MSU 44-38 in the second half and cut the lead to nine on two occasions with under four minutes to play but were never able to get closer. Before this year's battle, the last meeting had then-No. 6 Kansas defeating then-No. 3 Michigan State 81-74 on Nov. 25, 2003, in Allen Fieldhouse in Bill Self's first season at KU. No team has won more than two straight in the series. Some of the more memorable games include KU's 96-86 overtime win against Michigan State in the 1986 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Sweet 16 game in Kansas City. KU then defeated North Carolina State to advance to the Final Four in Dallas. In the next meeting, Michigan State defeated Kansas 66-54 in the Great Eight in Chicago, Ill. Michigan State has won both meetings in East Lansing - 81-62 in 1962 and 85-61 in 1979. This will be the second meeting between Kansas and Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament as they met in the 1986 Sweet 16 at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., with KU winning 96-86 in overtime. Kansas is no stranger to the Big Ten Conference as the Jayhawks have faced all 11 members of the league and is a combined 32-35.


Cole Aldrich's triple-double against Dayton (13 points, 20 rebounds, 10 blocked shots) is formally the first recorded in Kansas men's basketball history as blocked shots, assists and steals were not recorded at Kansas until the 1970s (and the NCAA until the 1980s). Lawrence Journal-World veteran reporter Bill Mayer provided Kansas with two instances in which Jayhawk legend Wilt Chamberlain recorded triple-doubles. Additionally, the NCAA Final Four record book shows that KU great B.H. Born had an unofficial triple-double against Indiana in the 1953 NCAA Tournament.

Kansas Triple-Doubles

Cole Aldrich vs. Dayton (3-22-09) - 13 points, 20 rebounds, 10 blocked shots (NCAA Tournament)

Wilt Chamberlain vs. Colorado (3-9-57) - 40 points, 13 rebounds, 12 blocked shots

Wilt Chamberlain vs. Marquette (12-8-56) - 39 points, 22 rebounds, 14 blocked shots

B.H. Born vs. Indiana (3-18-53) - 26 points, 15 rebounds, 13 blocked shots (NCAA Tournament)

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

In Bill Self's six seasons as head coach at Kansas he has won one national championship, five regular season Big 12 titles and three league tournament championships. He has guided KU to three NCAA Elite Eights and one Final Four. In his sixth season at KU, Self is 169-39 and he is 376-144 in his 16th season overall. On March 23, Self was named the recipient of the Henry Iba Award for national coach of the year by the USBWA. A national coach of the year finalist by the Naismith Award, Self has already garnered quite a bit of hardware for this season's success. On March 5, he was named the Yahoo! Sports National Coach of the Year. On March 6, the Athlon Sports National Coach of the Year. On March 8, he was named the 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year. On March 9, he was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year for the second time (2000 at Tulsa). On March 10, Self was named the National Coach of the Year. Self's Jayhawks won their fifth-straight Big 12 Conference Championship in 2009. Kansas (27-7, 14-2) had to replace six of its top seven scorers, including all five starters, from last year's NCAA National Championship team, and incorporate eight newcomers to this season's team.


Player Notables

--Junior guard Sherron Collins scored a career-high 32 points in the win against North Dakota State in the NCAA Tournament first round and answered that with 25 points against Dayton. He has 13 games of 20 points or more this season. He has averaged 28.5 points in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Collins was named All-Big 12 First Team and was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week three times this season. Making numerous All-America teams, Collins is a Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy mid-season candidate and named to the NABC District 8 First Team March 5. Collins leads Kansas with an 18.9 point scoring average. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 26 games this season. At Baylor (Feb. 2), he set the Kansas record for consecutive free throws made with 35 before missing.

--Sophomore center Cole Aldrich, Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year, was also named All-Big 12 First Team and registered the first official triple-double in school history with 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against Dayton in the second round. His 20 rebounds tied a career high at Oklahoma on Feb. 23. In his last 10 games he is averaging 15.9 points and 12.4 rebounds. Like Collins, Aldrich was named to the NABC District 8 First Team on March 5 and Athlon Sports' National Most Improved Player on March 6. His 20 double-doubles on the season are second most in the league next to Oklahoma's Blake Griffin's 28. He and Griffin are the only two conference players to average a double-double. Aldrich has seven 20-point efforts in 2008-09. Aldrich currently ranks 12th on the Kansas career blocked shots list with 124. Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.6 per game. He is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 11.0 rpg and second in field goal percentage at 60.3 percent.

--Junior guard Mario Little scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and pulled down six rebounds against Dayton. His points were his most since he had nine at Missouri on Feb. 9 and his rebounds the most since a home game against Missouri on March 1. Little is averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.3 rpg. He has appeared in 22 games this season with three starts has shot 50 percent or better in 11 of those contests. Little is averaging 12.8 minutes per game. He has pulled down six or more rebounds four times this season. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries.

--Junior guard Tyrone Appleton tied for his season high by playing six minutes against North Dakota State (0 points, 2 rebounds) in the NCAA Tournament first round. His other six-minute contest was game two against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 18.

A Kansas Win Would...

Improve Kansas to 28-7 on the season...

Advance Kansas to its 20th NCAA Tournament quarterfinal game...

Give Kansas its eighth straight NCAA Tournament victory...

Give KU an 85-36 record all-time in the NCAA tourney...

Improve Kansas to 9-3 as a No. 3 seed...

Give Kansas a 5-4 series edge against Michigan State...

Make KU 4-2 in neutral site games this season and 11-6 away from Allen Fieldhouse in 2008-09 (7-4 away, 4-2 neutral)...

Make Bill Self 170-39 at Kansas, 377-144 all time and 25-9 in the NCAA Tournament (15-4 while at Kansas)...

Make Kansas 1,971-792 all time.