Upset Alert: Michigan State Keys to Victory Against UConn

Derek GlauchContributor IApril 1, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - MARCH 22:  Chris Allen #3 of the Michigan State Spartans attempts a shot against the USC Trojans during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on March 22, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Michigan State won 74-69. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Michigan State - UConn game will be arguably be one of the biggest games in Michigan State history. The Final 4 is being played in Detroit, backyard to the Michigan State campus. Therefore the Spartans will essentially be playing a home game.

Here are the keys for a Spartans victory on Saturday. 

Key Starters

  • Kalin Lucas- The Big Ten player of the year is going to be a huge asset to the Spartans in this game. If they are going to beat UConn, Kalin must dish out the ball as more then he has all season. He must also take charge and rally his troops just like he did against Louisville.
  • Goran Suton- The Spartans big man is going to have his hands full against Hasheem Thabeet. But I believe he will handle himself just fine. Suton has the uncanny ability to move without the ball which makes him a dangerous weapon, as seen in the Kansas and Louisville games. His ability to shoot threes will pull Thabeet out of the paint allowing lanes for Lucas and Green.
  • Travis Walton-  The reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year will also have his hands full against AJ Price. If he can shut the UConn guards down like he did against Louisville, the Spartans have a pretty good chance for a victory.

Key Bench Players

  • Idong Ibok/Draymond Green- Hasheem Thabeet is going to wear out Goran Suton, so Ibok and Green are going to get a bulk of minutes. These two are going to have to play the game of there careers on Saturday if the Spartans are going to pull of a victory.
  • Durrell Summers/Chris Allen-  If these two sharp shooting sophmores catch fire against UConn, the Spartans will defiantly have a huge advantage.

Key Match ups

  • Goran Suton v. Hasheem Thabeet- This is easily the biggest match up in the game. Suton has been on fire during the tournament, but he will have his hands full against Thabeet. If Suton can get beyond the arc and open up the inside for Green, Walton, Roe, and Lucas, than the Spartans will be hard to stop.

Coaching Strategies

  • Michigan States' Man-to-Man defense- The Spartans are arguably the best defensive team in the Big Ten thanks to their man-to-man defense. Thanks to their D, they held the Louisville Cardinals to 52 points one game after putting up 103 against the Arizona Wildcats.

Michigan States' Key Stats

  • Free Throws- If the Spartans are going to win this game they must be able to hit their free throws. During the season they shot a dismal 69 percent from the charity strike. The good news is that they are hitting about 85 percent during the tournament.
  • Bench Points- They usually don't have any problems here with all the substituting Tom Izzo does, but this is still very important.
  • Points in the Paint- Su-ton! Su-ton! Su-ton! Get Suton the ball down low and you automatically have a better chance to win.
  • Three Pointers Made- If Summers, Lucious, and Allen get hot from beyond the arc, the Spartans will dominate. But I don't fully expect this to happen because they only made 35 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season.

Michigan States' Key Strengths

  • Defense- The best Defense in the Big Ten needs to keep dominating on Saturday if the Spartans are going to win. When Walton is on, he is hard to stop.

Michigan States' Key Weaknesses

  • Scoring- The Spartans can have problems scoring, but they have the ability to score in bunches. Typically they get off to a slow start offensively, but there defense keeps them in it until they get in the groove. So look for them to start off slow and then go on scoring binges as they usually do.

Well with having said this, I fully expect the Spartans to have some trouble with the Huskies of Connecticut, but with the best defense in the Big Ten look for them to stay in the game. I will be fully surprised to see the Spartans get blown out.

I believe that the Spartans will pull off the second upset in a row by defeating the UConn Huskies, but that prediction may be a little biased since I am a die-hard Spartans fan.