Georgia Bulldogs open up against Michigan State


The Georgia Bulldogs are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.  The only remaining player from that team is fifth-year senior Marcus Thornton.   Being the team’s current leader in scoring and rebounding, the Dawgs will depend a lot on Thornton’s leadership when they face the seventh-seeded Spartans from Michigan State.

Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans are in the tournament field for the 18th straight year, coming off a narrow loss in the Big Ten conference tourney final.  Michigan State will be looking to make its usual deep run in March.  Michigan State has made it to the round of 16 in six of the last seven years.

The Bulldogs on the other hand are attempting to find their first tournament win since 2002 as they are in the big dance for the second time during the Mark Fox era in Athens.

Georgia is a team that has been battling injuries all year long is expected to be near full strength for this game.  Guard Kenny Gaines, who missed UGA’s last game against Arkansas in the SEC tournament, is expected to play the second-round NCAA contest.

The Dawgs will need Gaines presence as he is one of five players on the team who averages in double-figure scoring and is a part of a unit that is one the top perimeter defenses in the country holding opponents to 38 percent shooting on the year.

Gaines’ defense will be tested against the Spartans leading scorer, senior guard Travis Trice, who averages 14.8 points per game on the season and has been scoring an average of more than 20 points per game over the last eight games.

Both teams will be looking to hit the glass hard as rebounding is a big part the team’s identity.  The Bulldogs are 24th in the country averaging 38 boards per game and MSU is not far behind, being ranked 36th on an average of 37.7 per contest.

The Bulldogs have good platoon of big men led by seniors Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic, who will be tasked with containing versatile Michigan State forward Denzel Valentine.

The Bulldogs will need to move the ball around and get good contributions from reserves Yante Maten and Cameron Forte, combined with three headed monster at guard of Kenny Gaines, J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann, Georgia will be in good shape against the Spartans.

Prediction: Dawgs 73, Michigan State 68

Game Info

Date:  March 20, 2015

Tip Off: 12:40 p.m.

TV Channel: Tru TV

Radio: In Atlanta: WSB (750 AM) & WSBB (95.5 FM). In Athens: WRFC (AM 960)

Live Stream: March Madness Live App

More from ATL All Day