Louisville Cardinals (3-2) vs. No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (5-1)
ACC-Big 10 Challenge
Game Time: 7:31 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Dan Dakich (analyst) and Molly McGrath (reporter)
Officials: Ted Valentine, Jamie Luckie, Bert Smith
Favorite: Michigan State by 5.5
Series: Tied 5-5
Last Meeting: Michigan State won 71-67 on Dec. 2, 2015 in East Lansing
Probable Starting Lineups:
Michigan State’s Season to Date:
About Michigan State:
The No. 9 team in the AP top 25 and the No. 8 squad in the coaches poll, Michigan State enters Tuesday night’s game having reeled off five straight wins following a five-point loss to then top-ranked Kansas on opening night.
The Spartans are led by junior guard Joshua Langford, who is playing easily the best basketball of his college career. The 6’5 sharp-shooter leads the team in scoring at 18.5 ppg, and is connecting on 47.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Fellow junior guard and Teddy Bridgewater lookalike Cassius Winston leads the team in assists at 7.5 per game, and is second in scoring at 18.0 ppg. Talented junior forward Nick Ward is still searching for consistency, but enters the game against Louisville third in scoring at 13.8 ppg and second in rebounding at 6.2 rpg.
Michigan State, as always, is sound defensively. The Spartans don’t bring a lot of ball pressure and don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they’re 12th in the country in effective field goal percentage defense. They’re also, as always, one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
Where this Michigan State team is different is that it likes to get out on the break and score points in bunches. The Spartans play at the 56th-fastest pace in Division-I and rank 11th in the country in points per game at 89.8. The Cards must be both efficient in their halfcourt offense and mindful of getting back and defending in transition after missed shots or turnovers.
Unlike in past seasons, Tom Izzo’s roster is loaded with experienced players who are great at the college level, but don’t currently project as early NBA Draft picks. There is no Miles Bridges or Jaren Jackson Jr. on this year’s team, which — regardless of what he or those around the program say — seems to be the situation where Izzo is the most comfortable.
—Louisville has won 49 consecutive home games in November, a streak which dates all the way back to a loss to Vanderbilt on November 30, 1972. The Cards are 35-0 in November games played inside the Yum Center.
—Louisville has won 68 of its last 71 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center.
—Louisville is 2-2 all-time in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, winning both of its home games (2014 vs. Ohio State, 2016 vs. Purdue) and losing both of its road games (2015 at Michigan State, 2017 at Purdue).
—Michigan State is 8-10 all-time in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.
—Louisville is second in the nation in free throw attempts per field goal attempts (172/272, 63.2 percent) and is second in the nation with 30.9 percent of its points coming from free throws.
—Nearly half of Louisville’s points this year have come from its bench (40.6 points per game). The Cardinals’ bench produced a school-record 63 bench points against Southern.
—Louisville has a 42-6 record during the month of November over the last eight years, winning 22 of its last 26 games in that month.
—Louisville is 2-0 all-time against Michigan State in games played in Louisville.
—Louisville is 58-45 all-time against current members of the Big Ten.
—Chris Mack is 7-2 all-time against Big Ten teams.
—Michigan State is the second of eight current AP top 10 teams that Louisville is scheduled to play. The Cards lost to No. 5 Tennessee last week in New York.
—Michigan State is 98-30 in the month of November under Tom Izzo.
—The ACC leads the Big Ten 12–5–2 in the series and 120–91 in games. The ACC has won the Challenge the last two years, rolling to an 11-3 win last year. The 2018 Challenge is tied at 1-1 entering play Tuesday night.
—Louisville has won 146 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Michigan State 80, Louisville 75