The matchups

Ncaa Men's Tourament

April 01, 2000|By Jamison Hensley

Point guard

Mateen Cleaves didn't discover his outside shot as a senior, but the Spartans' floor leader provides confidence and plays his best late in games. If Wisconsin can slow down the game, it will be Cleaves' responsibility to create opportunities in the half court. It's not about the points Kelley manufactures, but the points he takes away. Edge: Michigan State.

Shooting guard

Charlie Bell, hindered by an injured left knee, has been streaky with his outside shot. He isn't a primary option in State's offense though, and needs only to bring his defense. Jon Bryant, a transfer from Division II St. Cloud State (Minn.), has averaged 16.8 points in this tournament, jump-starting Wisconsin offensively. Edge: Wisconsin, slightly.

Small forward

Morris Peterson, State's leading scorer (16.6), creates the biggest matchup problem and sparked both second-half comebacks against Syracuse and Iowa State. He's either too big or too quick for defenders, and can beat them with a three-point shot or a quick slash to the basket. Maurice Linton won't take many shots yet is efficient, hitting 11 of 19 in the tournament (57.9 percent). Edge: Michigan State by large margin.

Power forward

Although A. J. Granger won't bang for rebounds, the Michigan State 6-foot-9 senior has scored 27 points in his past two games, and his 46 three-pointers this season have stretched defenses. Mark Vershaw is Wisconsin's point forward, leading the Badgers in scoring (11.9), assists (3.3), three-point percentage (.538) and minutes played (31.2). But he has slumped against the Spartans, missing 22 of 29 shots. Edge: Even.

Center

Andre Hutson won't steal any headlines away from Cleaves or Peterson, but he is State's most dependable rebounder, defender and post player. He could get a lot of touches early in a methodical game. Andy Kowske needs to outplay Hutson in the paint and reduce the Spartans' offensive rebounds. Edge: Michigan State.

Bench

Michigan State plugs in Mike Chappell, Jason Richardson and Al Anagonye to spell its starters, while not relying on much production. The Spartans' bench has a total of three shots the past two games. Wisconsin has used its reserves to its advantage, outscoring opponents 86-38 in the tournament. Edge: Wisconsin.

Coach

Tom Izzo allows a lot of freedom for his players and directed the Spartans to their second straight Final Four. Wisconsin's Dick Bennett may be a stronger strategist, but he has yet to find a way to beat Michigan State this season. Edge: Michigan State.

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