Game 20: Michigan State at Michigan Preview

Basics

Who: Michigan (10-9, 3-4) vs. MSU (17-3, 7-0)
Where
: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: January 26th, 7:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN/ESPN360.com
Radio
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Line: MSU by 5
Stats
: Live TFS
Opposition Blog: The Only Colors
Pomeroy Profile

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Michigan welcomes Michigan State to Crisler Arena as the Wolverines slowly watch their season slip away into darkness. Conversely, Michigan State is playing their best basketball of the season in the midst of a 7-0 start to conference play.

It appeared that Michigan might have rejuvenated their season with a home win over Connecticut but they followed that up with disappointment. The first blow was a crushing collapse in Madison that saw Michigan let a 9 point second half lead slip away. The loss in Madison was followed by Manny Harris’ practice incident which led to his suspension and a blow out loss at Purdue.

On paper, last week was just a pair of road losses to the #2 and #3 teams in the conference. That doesn’t seem like it should be something to be ashamed of but there is no doubt that this team is on life support, gasping for their final breaths.

Michigan State’s offense has actually been better than their defense. It should come as no surprise that Michigan State’s offense still relies heavily on offensive rebounding, the Spartans rebound 40.8% of their misses (9th nationally). They also shoot the ball very well, mostly because of their proficient shooting inside the arc (53.2%) where they take almost 75% of their shots.

Michigan State also dominates the glass on defense (rebounding over 70% of their opponents misses) but they also keep their opponents off the free throw line (28.1 FTR, 23rd nationally) and force them into low percentage shots. Michigan State’s opponents are shooting only 30.8% from three point range and that doesn’t bode well for the three point happy Wolverines.

kalin-lucasIn the backcourt, Michigan State will start Kalin Lucas (16 points, 4 assists) and Chris Allen (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists). Allen struggled at times early in his career but has put it together on both ends of the floor this year, becoming a defensive stopper and averaging 10 points per game (39.3% 3pt shooting). Kalin Lucas, well, he’s Kalin Lucas. Michigan has struggled to stop opposing point guards from getting in the lane this year and Kalin Lucas should be more of the same. Lucas-Perry, Morris, and Douglass will all get their shots but I’m less than optimistic that any of them can stop, or even slowdown, Lucas.

On the block, Delvon Roe is the guy who killed Michigan last year with one of his career best performances in Crisler Arena. Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman are intriguing freshman but KJ tells me (via IM) that he thinks they will have lots of trouble handling Sims on the block and expects them to play sparingly.

draymondThen you have Draymond Green, who is easily my favorite Spartan. Green will play down low, mostly at the four position, and is the straw that stirs the drink in East Lansing. Green averages 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game and will be an extremely tough match-up for Zack Novak.

When Michigan State offer Draymond Green a scholarship, the internet argument was that the offer was to prevent him from going to Michigan when it appeared he was on the verge of a commitment. It’s interesting to see Tom Izzo essentially admit that he got lucky with the recruitment and that he had his doubts about Green’s ability to play at this level. I saw Draymond play in a Christmas tournament versus Manny Harris during Green’s junior year and it was clear the kid could play. His basketball IQ and passing ability is off the charts and his success this yearly in his career is a testament to his work ethic and ability.

Raymar Morgan (11 points, 6 rebounds) and Durrell Summers are Michigan State’s main options on the wing. Raymar Morgan can play on the wing or move to the four spot. Summers has been up and down this year but is certainly a capable wing scorer who can get hot at any time. Both Morgan and Summers will also likely get their shots at guarding Manny Harris.

Last year’s contest was extremely ugly, a 54-42 Michigan State win, as Sims was really the only person to get going for Michigan. Michigan needs Harris and Sims to play well to have a chance. If they want to actually win it, some of the complementary players will have to step up as well.

I would expect healthy doses of ball pressure on Michigan’s tentative guards because Tom Izzo has almost certainly seen tape of the turnover problems that Douglass, Lucas-Perry, and Morris have developed. If Michigan can hit a few shots and keep their turnover percentage under 20% they have a chance.

Michigan State is also very good at completely eliminating at least one star player out of the offensive picture. Manny Harris always received the Travis Walton treatment and while Chris Allen is no Walton, you can be sure Michigan State will have a strong defensive plan in place for Harris.

Defensively there are so many options to stop that a couple of them are bound to have success. Michigan just can’t let three guys get hot like they did in West Lafayette. Prior to the Purdue game Michigan’s defense had improved quite a bit, holding Indiana, Connecticut, and Wisconsin under one point per possession. Michigan needs to find this defensive effort again, especially on the defensive glass, and play with that sort of intensity for 40 minutes.

It’s really all or nothing for Michigan here. Their season has been a colossal disappointment and beating Michigan State is one of the last opportunities to spark any kind of a run. Even if it doesn’t spark a run, it would be John Beilein’s first win over Michigan State which has to count for something.

  • http://umhoops.com Mattski

    Two consecutive no-calls to end the game in our own house. That hurts.
    I like Lavin’s analysis, but his rationalization of the no-call on Manny was. . . dubious.

  • JB

    we play just well enough to barely lose every game…whether to NW without coble at home, indiana without creek on the road, msu at home, and the list goes on. that’s a trademark of a bad team. we blew this one. we have nobody to blame but ourselves. we have a lot of shortcomings but there’s no reason we should have lost this one.
    i don’t think there’s any possibility that we make the tournament now.

    if horford wants pt, i hope he watched this game. draymond bagadoughnuts looked like shaq against our interior defense.

    this team is driving me insanse.

  • Name

    as far as fouls go…if it was UofM fouling MSU with 1.5 seconds left and uofm defending an MSU alley oop with 1 second left would you have been saying that should have been a foul? I am thinking no. And in that case say those fouls were called on uofm in that situation would you have been pissed off? I am betting yes just like MSU fans would be pissed off if they were called on them in this game.

    I have seen a heck of a lot worse “intentional” fouls and sims was pushing summers as summers was on him on that alley oop. They could have been a lot more blatant and I really don’t see how they could call the foul in that situation; sims had ample opportunity to make that shot

    there is no place for blaming refs in 99.9% of games. If uofm goes 9-29 from 3 instead of 7-29, we arent having this conversation.

  • ryan

    when is signing day for basketball?

  • ChrisG

    One of the things that frustrated me about last years team was that Novak, Stu, and LLP could get it together to all be hot on the same day. Never thought they would all get worse in year two. Would have been great to see Gibson in there in the last two mins when we were up three. I feel like it was scripted that MSU was going to get that offensive rebound.

  • Drew

    How the hell am I supposed to study after that? I just experienced the most heart breaking loss I’ve gone through in a longgg time, and I live with 2 state fans. I hate life.

  • JeremyC

    A season of missed opportunities!!!

  • Pete

    Agreed. Poor shooting lost this game for Michigan. No matter how much Summers backed into Sims, the bottom line is you are NOT going to beat a top 5 team shooting 32% from the field and 7-29 from 3. Michigan has had a few crushing losses at home to MSU over the last 10 years but this one may be the hardest to take. I’d even rank it beside the close loss to #1 Ohio State a few years ago which would have got us back in the tournament.

    That being said, you still cannot count U-M out. There are enough games left on the schedule where they can fight back to .500 in league and will still have a chance to pull off an upset or two that will impress the committee. I believe this team has a run in them, and hopefully its not a matter of too little too late. Their defense and rebounding has been much improved its just a matter of making jump shots.

  • http://wolverineliberationarmy.com chitownblue

    They gave it the best they had. Their two Big-Ten Level players (Harris and Sims) largely played well. They got nothing from anyone else. With solid recruits in Morris and Vogrich getting their feet wet, at least two more solid recruits (Smotrycz and Hardaway) coming in next year, and another (Brundidge) coming in the following year, we’re staring to get our talent base back. The tournament is probably done, but I’ll rooting to see them send DeShawn Sims out with a strong performance from here on out.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    Michigan basketball…they’ll break your heart

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    No, Pete, that will not work. The only realistic way they make the Big Dance is by winning the Big Ten Tournament. Period.

  • http://wolverineliberationarmy.com chitownblue

    The last few years of Amaker’s recruiting left Beilein with 2 players worthy of playing in the Big 10 – Sims and Harris. A 2 year run of Morris/Vogrich/Smotcryz/Hardaway/Horford/Ziegler would be the best 2-year of recruiting since Horton/C. Sims/D. Harris/Petway, except this time we actually have a coach that can develop players, rather than watching Courtney Sims and Dion Harris be the same exact player for 4 years. We’re still on the way up.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Nobody has commented yet on us going with 1-3-1 on final defensive possession. I actually liked the call, but unfortunately Manny’s foot to Kalin’s face gave them a chance to regain themselves. Too bad we couldn’t have kept it out of his hands for the last shot.

  • http://wolverineliberationarmy.com chitownblue

    maxwell – Novak has struggled on perimeter d all year – no huge surprise that he lost Lucas.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Couldn’t agree more chitown. Amaker brought in 3 very good recruits and absolutely nothing else in those two classes. Unfortunately we lost Ekpe, leaving us with two, and then when you combine that with Beilein having to put together a last second recruiting class, it’s pretty clear why this team struggles.

    I’d like to point out that we had four turnovers tonight, played excellent defense (9 steals), and got a lot of wide open looks. These are all signs of good coaching but we just don’t have the talent to match. I hope that within the next couple years we will be winning not just in A2 but E. Lansing.

  • AG2

    This team can go in one of two directions, and I mean not just the players, the fans, too.

    We can either give up and let Iowa beat us at home, or we can come out and repeat our 30pt beatdown from the Big Ten Tournament.

  • http://wolverineliberationarmy.com chitownblue

    I mean, Kendric Price, K’Len Morris, Reed Baker, Anthony Wright, Jevohn Shepard, Jerret Smith, Ronald Coleman…these are the guys that Beilein inherited other than Manny, Sims, and Udoh. Combine that with having 3 weeks to assemble his first class…this roster is THIN.

  • Giddings

    1) Please make someone else take the final shot besides Kalin Lucas. Has he ever missed in the clutch? Ever? I don’t care if Raymar Morgan gets a wide open look on the baseline from 12 feet, I’d rather have him shoot that than an off-balance contested 20 footer from Lucas. When he got that shot off, did anybody think it wouldn’t go in?

    2) It did look like an obvious grab on Peedi at the end, but no way are we going to get that call, especially with Izzo barking at the refs all night.

    3) This game certainly felt like a “make or break” for the season, but at least there’s plenty of games left (there just aren’t many other golden opportunities to get a TRUE signature win).

    I know Junderground and crew will jump all over me for this but we could get hot, hold serve at home (hardest game is Wisconsin, who we should have beat at their place), and go 3-2 on the road (win at NW, Iowa, and Minny, lose at OSU and MSU), win two games in the BTT, and guess what, we’re 20-13 (11-7) and probably on the right side of the bubble considering our late season run.

    I know, “there’s no way we go 8-2 with this team”, but I’m just saying. Let’s keep rooting hard for these guys and see what happens. I’d say going 8-2 is more likely than winning the BTT. Winning at Minny twice in a row is no easy task but I’d say we at least have a “realistic shot”.

  • Tweeter

    Not going to bash the officials for missing that call at the end. For one, there were only two of them left, but also, its tough to make that kind of call on the last play of a game. I thought as a whole the officiating was pretty awful all game, but it was equally awful to both teams.

    This game was all about us making open shots. I was shocked at how many open looks State gave us. I really thought that after seeing Purdue take us out of any offense with their pressure D, State would try and replicate that. Instead it looked like they went with the Wisky option of sagging off perimeter players and taking away Sims inside and penetration off the dribble. These guys just have to make more shots than that. Even if we shot our average percentage we win.

    The other thing that bothered me in this game was the number of times that guys penetrated and passed up shots in the lane for open jumpers. Some of them would have been difficult, but other times it looked like we had layups and instead kicked it out. Even Manny passed up a shot in the paint. Dont know if guys confidence was shaken by the poor layup shooting at Wisky or what, but you gotta take some of those. The big one was our second to last possession when it looked like Douglass had a great look and instead kicked it out to Peedi.

    As bad as this team has been at times this year, its amazing how close they have been to having a great season. If they could just close out games.

  • jim-e-p

    As the season has worn on the effort and defense have largely improved. We continue to lose these games due to abysmal shooting,just appallingly bad game after game after game. It is almost inconceivable how B10 scholarship players can continue to miss so many so badly. If we make even 11-29 tonight ( and many were quite wide open) we win this game easily. The Beilein bashers are way off and have forgotten all too quickly the despair of the hopeless Amaker years. We are not far from being pretty good. State is a solid club but let’s not give them too much credit. There is not a clear cut pro on the roster, save perhaps Lucas as a backup. A team with four turnovers loses one way – by missing everything. In an answer to some earlier discussion, both Loy Vaught and Eric Riley were redshirts at Michigan and they had pretty good careers. Having decent redshirts is the sign of a functioning program, something that UM has not fully had since ’84-’89.

  • andrew

    I actually think the 1-3-1 was a mistake. Hindsight being 20/20 and all. However, if you watch the tape M used the 1-3-1 twice in the last five minutes and both times MSU his a pull up jumper from fifteen. In the Purdue game they came out and played 1-3-1 and gave up rebounds and points galore. You don’t win with tricks. You win by playing solid basketball. Beilein is a good coach, but even good coaches outsmart themselves at times. The 1-3-1 has been ineffective all year, and it was not wise to employ it at that point, or any point in the game. It’s just not a good defensive set for those guys. Oh well.

  • Sam

    For all you state fans on this blog, I hope you realize how severely Beilein outcoached Izzo tonight. Not even close. More thoughts later once I collect my thoughts, that is if I make it to tomorrow evening.

  • JayRich

    Keep the sanity guys. We are a team that relies on young players. Manny and Sims are our only upperclassmen that make any real contributions. Hopefully Manny stays but even if he doesn’t we will be fine going forward. Novak is going to be one helluva college player once he is playing the 3 instead of the 4. We will have lots of back court depth next year and some depth upfront. We will still be young but at least Novak, stu, llp, Darius, Vogrich,will all have another year in the system and players like Morgan, McLimans,and maybe Cronin know the system.

  • Jay

    @Chitownblue, so when in doubt just blame it on Amaker huh?

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