At 9:20 PM tonight, the No. 7 UCLA Bruins are facing off against the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans in what promises to be a close, competitive game. The game is being broadcast nationally on TBS with coverage by Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel.
Michigan State is led by senior Kalin Lucas, who has averaged 17.2 points and 3.3 assists per game, and junior Draymond Green, who averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 blocks, and 4.0 assists per game. Their team's overall offense was middle-of-the-road in their conference (69 points per game), but they make up for it with a strong defense.
On the other side of the ball, UCLA doesn't have one shooter as talented as Lucas, but instead has a range of well rounded offensive players. Sophomore Reeves Nelson leads the team with 13.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, while junior Malcolm Lee and sophomore Tyler Honeycutt also average around 12 points a game with a handful of rebounds.
Depending how you look at it, either team could realistically be picked to win tonight. UCLA has the higher seeding and has a 67% chance of winning according to Nate Silver's statistical forecasts, but Michigan St. is rated as a slightly stronger team according to KenPom.com. The game is essentially a toss up. Or as Michigan States' head coach Tom Izzo said:
What you have here is you have kind of two misfits in a way. We both had our issues, and we both...you always prepare like it's for the best, because once they've done something, that's what they're capable of doing on any given night. If you prepare that way, then if they don't play that well, I guess to be honest it's in our favor, and same for them. I mean, I'm sure they're scratching their head sometimes looking at our film...and rightfully so.
For all your bracket and prediction needs, check out SB Nation's printable 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket.