No real surprise to me-- Michigan State wins comfortably in its opening NCAA tournament game, 72-61 over Temple. Dionte Christmas of the Owls, a 20 points per game scorer, is held to one for 12 shooting-- and that's the game. It does amaze me that after Neitzel and Lucas combined for 44 of State's 63 points in last Saturday's loss to Wisconsin that they combined for 13 in this victory. But Chris Allen and Durrell Summer added some offense and maybe that's just as well.
It will be tougher Saturday to be sure. Watching Pitt blow apart Oral Roberts suggests that the Spartans will play a much more physical, athletic team. Obviously the Spartans will have to play very well to win and advance but they already know that so they can relax with that knowledge. As usual, State had some dry moments in each half and when the Owls cut the score to 64-54 with three minutes left, maybe some Spartan fans started to cringe. But Temple just isn't good enough to beat Michigan State, pure and simple.
Now the Spartans get to make a statement. If they win, they'll get plenty of hype heading next week to Houston and a date, most likely, with top seed Memphis. If they lose they finish 26-9, an improvement over last year's 23-12 record. But there shouldn't be a feeling of big pressure-- they need to simply prepare and play their game and see if the NCAA tournament gods look favorably on them Saturday to see if they can get another win and continue onward to Texas next week.