For the 10th time in the Tom Izzo era of Michigan State basketball, the Spartans are headed to the Sweet 16. They outlasted Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon in a slugfest in Columbus. Michigan State was in control for most of the game, but Saint Louis battled back from 11 down in the second half to make things close. In the end, the Spartans held off the comeback and won by a score of 65-61.
This was like watching a Big Ten game in January with how much of a defensive struggle it was. Saint Louis shot a dismal 18-of-51 from the field and only 28 percent from three-point land. Michigan State was significantly better with a 54.3 shooting percentage from the field, but at times the Spartans had some shooting issues of their own.
The main reason Saint Louis was even in this game at the end was because they went to the free-throw line 23 times. They made 18 of the attempts, including several during their comeback from down 11 points.
When it mattered most, Draymond Green stepped up and made plays for Michigan State to ensure a trip to the Sweet 16 would happen. He scored 16 points and made a big jumper when Saint Louis cut the lead to two points. Keith Appling then hit a clutch three to stretch the lead, and he finished with a game-high 19 points.
With the victory, Michigan State is now headed to the Sweet 16 out in Phoenix. The Spartans will take on the Louisville Cardinals, which beat New Mexico on Saturday to advance. When Michigan State made its run to the Final Four in 2009, it beat Louisville in the Elite Eight. This year, the Spartans will need to eliminate Louisville in the Sweet 16 in order to have a shot at making it back to the Final Four.
You can find more on the Michigan State Spartans at The Only Colors. For more coverage of the 2012 NCAA tournament, visit SB Nation Detroit's StoryStream. Also, make sure to check out SB Nation's NCAA tournament hub and our printable NCAA tournament bracket.