Pregame Glance: Michigan State

Written January 18th, 2013 by Ken

The Buckeyes take their first trip to Spartyland since William Buford sank that dagger three to lift the Buckeyes last March. MSU has another solid team this year, so let’s take a look.


School: Michigan State University
Location: East Lansing, MI
Founded: 1855
Student Population: 47.954 total, 36,675 undergrad
School Type: Public – Land Grant
Stadium: Breslin Center
Seating: 16,000
Opened: 1989
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Experience: Forever (18th year, actually)

Before We Get Started

I have to say that I’ve outdone myself this time. I reached out to a friend of mine – let’s call him ‘John’, since that’s his name – who is an avid and knowledgeable MSU fan. If I have any questions about MSU athletics, I look to John because I have that much respect for his opinion. He and I have worked together for close to 15 years, so there have been a lot of opinions traded back and forth. As always, John was gracious enough to help me out. Onward..

Ken: John, I’m doing a pregame view between OSU and MSU; can you help me with a couple Q&A’s?

John: Of Course!

K: Izzo’s Spartans are putting another tough squad on the floor. How do you feel the team has performed so far?

J: On a scale of 1-5 in Izzo’s annual campaign to develop a contender with March being the final measurement… I’d give this team a 2. There is no question that this team is committed to the ‘Izzo Way’, but on three major characteristics in development currently:

Leadership: Appling has made huge strides, but his style is reminiscent of Charlie Bell… the quiet leader, and this team has a Draymond Green sized hole to fill!

Defense: A lot of youth on this team is lengthening the learning curve. Again, the team is committed, but its taking time to develop the concepts and get the reps.

Chemistry: This team has it… and that only lends itself to galvanization of the core for the tournament run.  I see no distractions/weaknesses (i.e. Corey Lucious; Chris Allen; Brandon Kearney) getting in the way.
Note:  Spartans lack of continuity in personnel due to injuries since October has contributed to holding them back.   They’ll be a formidable opponent in March under Izzo’s classic tutelage, but in today’s Big Ten environment… I’d give them  75% chance of winning any game at home, and it’s a 50/50 proposition on the road.

K: Buckeye fans are all too aware of Keith Appling and the Towers of Power, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. Who else should get our attention?

J:Gary Harris….. Harris is a legit contender for freshmen of the year.  The kid came in with a skill-set developed beyond his years.  According to most “He just gets it”, from Defense, Offense, Rebounding, Effort, Shooting principles,   to the fact that his naturally given physical attributes are well above that of most 18 year olds.

K: What will the Buckeyes have to do to beat the Spartans? Conversely, how can OSU beat MSU?

J: MSU must Defend, Rebound, Limit Turnovers, Make free throws.  OSU must Make Open Shots(there will be many), Be Physical On the Back Court, Tie or win the Rebound battle.

K: Finally, any game predictions?

J: Buckeyes by 12. [Thanks for winning the 'expectations' game, John. Well played]

I guess that about sums it up, a revealing look at a formidable opponent by a knowledgeable fan. John, thank you very much for your input to this article, I truly appreciate it. Oh, and the OSU bowl game t-shirt you sent me looks great. /simmer This article writes itself, or rather, John wrote it for me.

I’ll pull together a few stats, with commentary, and then on to the Breslin. Information will be pulled from the excellent site at Statsheet . You’re familiar with the drill by now.

Michigan State

The 18th ranked Spartans (15-3-0, 4-1) are good team, propelled by a nicely balanced effort offensively and defensively. All the stuff-you-need-to-know is above; starter stats, below.

Michigan-state #11 K. Appling 18 33.6 13.7 42.4 76.5 32.0 3.3 4.5 2.4 0.6 2.2
Michigan-state #22 B. Dawson 18 26.6 10.2 55.9 48.8 0.0 6.1 1.4 2.1 1.2 1.8
Michigan-state #25 D. Nix 18 25.8 9.5 53.9 69.1 0.0 7.1 0.9 1.6 0.2 1.7
Michigan-state #14 G. Harris 18 28.2 12.9 45.4 78.4 38.9 2.6 1.1 1.25 0.2 1.9
Michigan-state #45 D. Valentine 18 21.9 5.6 45.1 72.7 32.3 4.4 2.8 2.42 0.4 2.2

Ohio State

The 11th ranked Buckeyes (13-3, 3-1) play yet another ranked team, this time in the not so friendly confines of the Breslin Center. The usual cast of characters, below. Key stats for starters:

Ohio-state #1 D. Thomas 16 33.3 20.3 47.0 78.7 40.6 6.6 1.6 1.4 0.3 1.4
Ohio-state #4 A. Craft 16 31.4 8.9 39.3 82.1 34.1 3.3 4.6 1.4 0.1 2.4
Ohio-state #32 L. Smith Jr. 16 27.2 10.3 44.2 59.3 42.2 5.8 1.8 1.4 0.2 1.8
Ohio-state #12 S. Thompson 16 24.2 7.3 44.8 76.7 25.0 3.8 1.1 1.3 0.8 1.5
Ohio-state #23 A. Williams 16 15.6 4.6 62.5 52.2 0.0 4.1 0.2 0.9 1.4 2.4

The below table has the comparative Four Factors as well as possessions per game (PPP), points per possession – offense (PPP-O) and points allowed per possession (PPP-D).

eFG% 51.3% 52.1%
TO% 21.4% 16.4%
Off Reb 35.6% 34.8%
FT Rate 38.7% 34.3%
PPG 67 67
PPP (O) 1.05 1.12
PPP (D) 0.86 0.87

Ohio State needs to come out with similar intensity they displayed against UM. The Spartans are undefeated at the Breslin, and you know the Izzone will be in full throat. The Buckeyes have not been at their best when forced to play half-court offense, so look for the Spartans to use their offensive rebounding to try to reduce rebound-and-run opportunities for the Bucks. OSU’s ability to better protect the ball (4 fewer turnover’s per game) may make the difference.

Tip-off is on Saturday January 19th at 6:00PM at the Breslin Center.. Please join us for the live blog at 5:45PM. The game is televised on ESPN (it hurt me as much to type it as you to read it).


  1. EricNo Gravatar
    January 18th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Statistically speaking, it’s a pretty even match-up. I think the Bucks are going to need more than just their “A” game to pull this one off.


    KenNo Gravatar
    January 18th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I think you’re right. I’m not sure what is the level above ‘A’ game, but I hope it makes it on the team bus for the Buckeyes. I’ve got some anxiety about this game.


  2. JasonNo Gravatar
    January 18th, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    This would be a huge road win, and they badly need that. Beat TTUN and then follow it up with a win at the Breslin Center and confidence is HIGH for these guys. Hope so…


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