Georgia and Michigan State meet in NCAA Tournament tussle

Mar 20, 2015 - 2:43 PM Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday, with one of the first matchups of the day pitting the Georgia Bulldogs against the Michigan State Spartans at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Both teams are in the East Region, with Georgia owning the No. 10 seed and Michigan State No. 7. The winner advances to the third round on Sunday to take on either No. 15 seed Belmont or No. 2 seed Virginia.

Georgia quietly exceeded the 20-win plateau this season, doing so in a Southeastern Conference that was dominated by the top-ranked and undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. The Bulldogs wound up winning 11 of their 18 league bouts, and they are coming off a 60-49 loss to Arkansas in the SEC Tournament semifinals. Georgia is participating in its 12th NCAA Tournament, the first since 2011, and it owns a record of 7-11 all-time in the event.

Michigan State is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, the team appearing in its 18th consecutive Dance, matching the Big Ten Conference record set by Indiana from 1986-2003. Overall, the Spartans have been to the event 29 times, and they own a record of 59-27. MSU. which is 22-6 in its first games in the tourney, has made eight trips to the Final Four, and has won a pair of national championships (1979 and 2000). As for the current campaign, the Spartans are 23-11 and they won 12 of their 18 Big Ten bouts. They dropped an 80-69 overtime decision to Wisconsin in last Sunday's conference tournament title tilt.

This game marks the first-ever meeting between Georgia and Michigan State in men's basketball.

Georgia puts up a little more than 68 ppg, doing so behind a balanced attack that features four double-digit scorers, led by Marcus Thornton with his 12.3 ppg. Thornton also spearheads the team's rebounding effort with 7.2 per game, and both Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier have dished out more than 100 assists on the season. Kenny Gaines (11.6 ppg) missed the Arkansas game with a sprained foot, but has declared himself available for this contest. Defensively, the Bulldogs are permitting opponents just 38.7 percent success on their field goal attempts, and that includes a 30.9 percent showing from 3- point range. UGA is +4.2 in rebounding margin, but is in the red in turnover differential (-1.7).

Michigan State generates a bit more offense (71.9 ppg) than does it counterpart, as it relies heavily on its top three players, Travis Trice (14.8 ppg, 5.2 apg), Denzel Valentine (14.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.4 apg) and Branden Dawson (12.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg) to do most of the heavy lifting. The team as a whole is converting 47.1 percent of its total shots, which includes a 38.6 percent performance out on the perimeter, while yielding 63.4 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .400 overall and .323 from beyond the arc. Factor in a sizable advantage on the glass (+6.8), and it's no wonder the Spartans have achieved the level of success they have this season.






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