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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 | Three Keys To Victory For The Oklahoma Sooners

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Limit The Michigan State Spartans In Transition

Tom Izzo utilizes a transition offense at Michigan State urging players to stay wide on the court while the ball handler attacks the middle. Needless to say, spacing along with pace of play trouble a majority of the Spartans opponents. Currently, Coach Izzo's squad averages 18.9 transition points per game ranking 14th in the nation. In fact, nearly one-fourth of their possessions result in transition. On Friday during the Sweet 16, the Oklahoma Sooners must find a way to limit MSU's transition opportunities. Lon Kruger may opt to send two or three players back as soon as a shot goes up to accomplish the feat leaving Ryan Spangler and TaShawn Thomas to crash the boards.

Share The Ball

Buddy Hield and the rest of the crew rely heavily on the ability to create for themselves off the bounce. However, the junior may face two solid defenders in Denzel Valentine, the Spartans most versatile defender, and Branden Dawson. Combine a relentless defense with Hield's shooting slump and we have a perfect storm. Oklahoma must move the ball at an accelerated rate in order to earn an open shot, not a strength of the Sooners who average 12.5 assists per game. While both teams thrive on defense, the Spartans strength lies in forcing opponents into ill-advised shots. Allowing opponents to shoot 39.5% from the floor, Michigan State possesses an above average defense with the ability to take control of the game.

Get To The Charity Stripe

One advantage the Sooners have over the Spartans remains at the free throw line. Throughout the course of the season, Michigan St. committed 672 fouls in 36 games for an average of 18.7 per contest. Shooting 73.8% as a team from the free throw line, Jordan Woodard and the gang must attack the rim on a consistent basis. If this game is the track meet many expect it to be, it could easily be decided at the charity stripe in the final minutes.