The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0) dusted off Nebraska on Saturday, but have a much tougher opponent on Tuesday. The team plays#5 Michigan State University (13-1, 2-0) at the Breslin Center, tipping off at 9:00 PM EST.
Here’s their Profile
We have an important game coming up on Tuesday (you knew that, that’s why you’re here) between #3 OSU vs #5 MSU that has conference and national rankings implications. I’m going to change up the usual “Pregame Glance” format, because we are fortunate enough to have my friend John stopping in for a brief Q&A. As a refresher, John and I go back, professionally and personally for close to 15 years, and I consider him a good friend. I also consider him a knowledgeable Spartan basketball fan, par excellence. Last season, John graced our little corner, and again, fortunately, he agreed to help us out in previewing this Michigan State team. So. let’s get started:
Ken: The Spartans have had a couple of games (Texas, Penn State) where they had slow starts, then backed it up with very strong 2nd halves in convincing wins. Obviously, Tom Izzo knows how to make half-time adjustments. Were the 1st halves “according to plan” to see what they were up against, or were those two teams surprisingly that good?
John: No definitely not according to plan! This team is evolving daily. To date, they lack leadership. Even though they are top 5 in the nation in assists per game, this team’s lack of leadership results in a “wait and see” approach to who is going to step up and lead in the first half of every game.
K: MSU lost some talent last year with the departures of Draymond Green, Derrick Nix and Austin Thorton. Obviously having a back court (Appling/Harris/Trice) return along with Brandon Dawson and Adreian Payne return helps Izzo sleep at nights. Who else have the Spartans leaned on to give quality minutes this season?
J: Matt Costello has stepped up and entered the starting rotation and is the emotional leader in the middle whether on or off the floor. His 2 week absence with mono allowed for the progression of Alex Gauna, and Gavin Schilling as key contributors in the paint. Equally impacted by his absences were the guards rebounding responsibilities (Valentine, Appling particularly.)
K:This looks like about a 3-5 horse race in the B1G at this point; Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. How do you see the conference race shaking out?
J: Regular season will be a blood bath, which perennially speaks to the need to WIN AT HOME, and steal a road win or two. Regular season champ will have 4-5 losses. Wins at Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois will also prove difficult to get. Put those top 3 in a hat… you pick!
K: Speaking of Wisconsin; did MSU forward Kenny Kaminski (6’8”, 225) take a wrong turn on his way to Madison? His name and size makes me think he’s a Bo Ryan kind of guy.
J: I think some Spartan fans wonder if he should be there. After disciplinary problems that show his immaturity lead to missed game time and extra pain-time, he’s finally making some contributions on the the past few games. Izzo calls him possibly the most pure shooter since Shaun Respert. Great energy and very athletic as well. We’ll see.
K: For Tuesday, we have a couple teams that can score and can really, really play good defense. How do you see the game unfolding?
J: If Michigan State gets off to another slow start lacking leadership and emotion, they could be in for a long day. But maybe Thad Matta’s emotion is enough to energize both teams! Spartans by 4.
John, thanks for your comments, I appreciate your insights. I hope that you’re wrong about the results, but MSU is pretty tough to beat at Breslin. Actually, MSU is tough to beat anywhere.. Thanks again, and good luck on Tuesday.
Below are the teams and their season-to-date statistics, courtesy of statsheet.com.
Here are the Michigan State University Spartans:
|3||Ellis III, Alvin||6’4″||G||1.8||47.4||50.0||40.0||0.7||0.5||0.8|
And, here are your Ohio State Buckeyes:
|32||L. Smith Jr.||6’4″||G||12.7||50.8||39.1||76.4||4.9||1.6||1.4|
|33||A. Della Valle||6’5″||G||5.5||38.6||37.5||61.1||2.3||0.4||0.7|
The Spartans will be a load, especially at Breslin. They can come at you from different positions, so aside from the physical play, and there will be that, this could turn into an interesting chess-match between Matta and Izzo. I feel comfortable about the backcourt matchups, but the combination of Payne-Dawson will be a stiff test for our front court. Don’t miss this game, it will be something to watch.
|PPG O||PPG D||RPG||APG||TPG||Pos/G||PPP||A/T|
The game is scheduled for Tuesday, tipping off at 9:00 PM EST in the Breslin Center. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN, check local listings. Live chat coverage will be provided by tBBC, check back here. Please join us for our live chat approximately 30 minutes before tip-off.