The USC Trojans face the Michigan State Spartans on Friday morning in a tough matchup. Spartans Wire has done plenty of digging and examining from the Michigan State side, and the future Big Ten showdown has the Spartans as the favorites in this game.
On the other hand, the Trojans did get some good news regarding Drew Peterson’s health, although the status of Vincent Iwuchukwu could be a concern for USC.
With USC back in the NCAA Tournament, here are five keys for the Trojans to get the upset and beat the Spartans on Friday.
FORGET ABOUT THE PAST
Mar 9, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) looks to pass the ball between USC Trojans forward Joshua Morgan (24) and USC Trojans forward Kobe Johnson (0) during the first half at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
The Trojans need to not dwell in the past. Yes, they lost earlier than expected to Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament; despite a 77-72 finish, the game was never really that close.
The Trojans need to go into this Michigan State game with the mindset of being 0-0.
DREW PETERSON BOUNCE BACK
Mar 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans guard Drew Peterson (13) is defended by Arizona Wildcats guard Pelle Larsson (3) in the first half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Drew Peterson is very likely going to be the X-factor for USC in this game. Yes, Boogie Ellis is the gas that keeps the engine running on offense, but Peterson needs to play well.
Against Arizona State, he scored just 9 points on 2-12 shooting from the field, and that won’t do the job against a tough Michigan State team.
LEAN ON BOOGIE ELLIS
Dec 7, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans guard Boogie Ellis (5) and guard Drew Peterson (13) celebrate against the Cal State Fullerton Titans in the first half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Boogie Ellis has been playing out of his mind over the past few weeks, and this tournament is when star players do what they do best. Ellis has scored in double digits in 9 of the last 10 games. He has five games of 20 or more and two games of 30 or more in the last seven contests.
If USC wants any chance to move on to the Round of 32, Boogie Ellis will need to take control of this game offensively.
HEALTH OF VINCENT IWUCHUKWU
Mar 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Kerr Kriisa (25) beats USC Trojans forward Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) to a rebound in the first half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The health and status of freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu might be the biggest key to this game. In his absence, the Trojans struggled defensively and on the boards against Arizona State, and they need him to be available.
The Spartans have center Mady Sissoko, and although his numbers don’t jump off the page (5 PPG and 6.1 rebounds), he does a lot of dirty work down low and could give USC a tough time, especially if Iwuchukwu is out or limited.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo watches from the sidelines in the first half of the Final Four game against Texas Tech at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
This is where Michigan State has a clear advantage. Frankly, the Spartans have this advantage against most of the teams in the field of 68. Tom Izzo is a legend who has been there, done that, and engineered some deep runs in his tenure.
Andy Enfield, on the other hand, did wonders with Florida Gulf Coast and even brought USC to the Elite Eight a few years ago, so he is no slouch. However, Enfield has a tough task coaching against one of the legends of the game. Can he fight to a draw? USC’s players can then win in Columbus.