The Dagger previews each of the Sweet 16 matchups. Here's our look at Northern Iowa-Michigan State:
No. 5 Michigan State (26-8) vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa (30-4)
Friday, 9:37 p.m. EDT (approximate), Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, MO)
How they got here:
Michigan State: d. No. 12 New Mexico State, 70-67; d. No. 4 Maryland, 85-83.
Northern Iowa: d. No. 8 UNLV, 69-66; d. 1 Kansas, 69-67.
Last Sweet 16 appearances:
Michigan State: 2009 (defeated Kansas, Louisville to reach Final Four)
Northern Iowa: never
Match-up to watch: Michigan State F Draymond Green vs. UNI F Adam Koch
MSU has had a season in which its extremely capable starting five has rotated who stepped up. There has been no consistent, but Green came on last weekend and showed us something we'd rarely seen all year. We think he'll be matched up against Koch, who could be seen flying over the back side of the Kansas defense and throwing down alley-oops with apparent ease. Koch was also the player who had a critical dunk put-back in the final minute of play, staving off Kansas taking the lead in the game and giving the Panthers a one-point lead before Ali Farokhmanesh shot his way into the minds of our nation's citizens.
The Panthers have a real shot because Kalin Lucas is done for the season with a torn Achilles. Tom Izzo has done a magnificent job, yet again, in getting a team that probably has little business reaching the Sweet 16 to do just that. This Spartans team isn't as strong a rebounding group as you may remember, but they do seem to always have someone step up and find a way to keep them in the game. Korie Lucious, the man who hit the game-winner against Maryland, is turnover prone, and he'll have to curb that against a Panthers team that doesn't make mistakes. UNI will have a chance if it continues to act and execute in a disciplined manner. Farokhmanesh will probably see some specific defenses aimed at stopping him, but MSU cannot afford to forget about Jordan Eglseder, the wide body down low who's got farm-boy toughness in the paint.
Prediction: Lucas' injury proves costly in waning minutes. Pick: Northern Iowa 65, Michigan St. 62