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Michigan State Spartans forward Gabe Brown (44) flies to the hoop for a fast break dunk. (Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire)
March 18th, 2022
The 10th-seeded Davidson Wildcats will look to upset the seventh-seeded Michigan State Spartans in a first-round West Region matchup set for tipoff at Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET, in Greenville, South Carolina.
Davidson head coach Bob McKillop has led his team back to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in his 33-year tenure and has a special weapon in leading scorer Foster Loyer, who transferred from Michigan State ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Davidson's starting point guard averages 16.3 points per game and hits 44.5% from deep on a team that ranks seventh in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage (38.6%).
Foster Loyer nails the 3⃣! @DavidsonMBB pic.twitter.com/zVYNo6m9tA— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) March 12, 2022
Foster Loyer nails the 3⃣! @DavidsonMBB pic.twitter.com/zVYNo6m9tA
While the Wildcats are highly efficient from outside, they rank just 133rd in the country in 3-point attempts. Part of that has to do with their slow pace of play. They rank 304th in adjusted tempo and average 66.9 possessions per contest (324th in Division I).
Michigan State was shaky down the final stretch of the regular season, but the one thing it does well is guard the deep ball (31.2% opponent 3-point percentage).
Against one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation in Purdue (39.08%), Michigan State held the Boilermakers to 33.3% from behind the arc, but ultimately fell 75-70 in the Big Ten Conference Tournament semifinal after hitting just 50% of their own shots from the charity stripe.
Michigan State hasn't been great at creating turnovers this season, and Davidson doesn't cough up the ball. The Wildcats should have little problem slowing down the pace to create the shots they want, and will hit them at a high mark.
With Michigan State guard Tyson Walker (8.1 points, 4.3 assists) returning from a recent ankle injury, the Spartans will get back an absolutely lethal 3-point shooter (49.3% from 3), but if Walker is less than 100%, the Wildcats could run away with it.
'He is going to play': Tyson Walker ready for Michigan State's NCAA Tournament opener https://t.co/yvoVuzH0fp— The Detroit News (@detroitnews) March 17, 2022
'He is going to play': Tyson Walker ready for Michigan State's NCAA Tournament opener https://t.co/yvoVuzH0fp
Gabe Brown is the only player who averages double digits (11.4 points) for Michigan State, but Davidson has four players who average double figures — Loyer, Hyunjung Lee (16.0 points), Luka Brajkovic (14.2), and Michael Jones (11.9).
While Michigan State played a much tougher schedule (ranked ninth) compared to Davidson (118th), the Wildcats got the job done in their lone game against a ranked opponent. On the road against then-No. 10 Alabama, Davidson edged the Crimson Tide by one point and hit over 50% from the field, including 50% from the 3-point line.
If the Wildcats can repeat that type of scoring success against a shaky Spartans squad, they'll advance to the second round for the first time since 2008, when Steph Curry led the team to the Elite Eight.
Score prediction: Davidson 72, Michigan State 70
Our predictive engine is calling for Davidson to win outright.
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