Game 30: Michigan at Michigan State Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (14-15, 7-10) at Michigan State (23-7, 13-4)
: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
When: 4 PM, Sunday, March 7th
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Stats: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile
Last Time: Preview / Post Game
Opposition Blog: The Only Colors

michigan state logo

Michigan heads to East Lansing with dreams of playing spoiler. The Spartans are 23-7 and playing for a share of the Big Ten Championship. Michigan is on the other side of the spectrum: fighting to reach .500 and a long shot to make the NIT.

It’s Senior Night in East Lansing and Michigan State is 61-5 at home over the last four years. Michigan’s last win at the Breslin came in 1997 and this doesn’t appear to be the best chance to break the streak.

Michigan State has had a bit of a mysterious season. They are poised to take a share of the conference crown but really don’t have much to write home about in the way of quality wins. They are just 3-4 versus the RPI top 50 with those wins coming over Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and at Purdue (without Hummel). To Michigan State’s credit they have avoided any bad losses even if they have eeked out a couple of those wins. This year’s team is a far cry from last year’s MSU team that had 11 top 5 wins at this point last year.

harris-chokemsu-foulk harris-drive-hold

Michigan State has a distinct style of play. They turn a basketball game into a battle. Terms like “defensive pressure”, “boxing out”, and “foul” are redefined in East Lansing. This game will have a different level of physicality and it’s important for Michigan to be ready to play this way.

On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan State can beat you in one of three ways. First, they will try to beat you down the floor in transition. If that’s not there then they will delve into one of Tom Izzo’s numerous half court sets and probably end up with a nice look at the basket. Finally, they will crash the glass harder than any other team that Michigan will face this year.

Michigan State has rebounded 38.7% of their missed shots in conference play, this is the best percentage in the conference by a significant margin. Michigan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 71.2% in conference play is right in the middle of the pack but we have seen Michigan get dominated on the glass often enough to know that this is a serious concern.

There is also good news for Michigan, the Achilles Heel of this year’s Spartan offense has been turnovers. Michigan State turns the ball over on 20.9% of their possessions in conference play. That number is worse than every school besides Indiana and Iowa. Michigan has forced the most turnovers in conference play, forcing opponents to cough up the ball on 21.6% of their possessions. For Michigan to have a chance in this game, Michigan State has to turn the ball over like they did in the first match-up when they coughed it up on 30% of their possessions.

Turnovers and offense be damned, defense is where Tom Izzo makes his living. Izzo is a tremendous defensive game planner and he always brings his A-game versus Michigan. In  John Beilein’s three games versus the Spartans, Michigan has not topped an effective field goal percentage of 41.5%. Harris and Sims have always had to work hard for their baskets and Michigan has just not ended up with very many great looks at the basket.

Michigan State doesn’t force a lot of turnovers so it will be critical for Michigan to hold onto the ball. Winning the turnover battle is the one thing that allows Michigan to make up for getting outrebounded. Turnovers and rebounds are just one more way to “extra possessions”.

day-dayPersonnel and Match-Ups:

  • Kalin Lucas vs. Darius Morris: In the first game, Michigan received a stern reminder of how clutch Lucas can be. Morris has developed since the first match-up and will almost certainly be tasked to defend Lucas. He’s shown flashes as a great on-ball defender (Battle) but this will be a huge test for the freshman.
  • Raymar Morgan vs. Zack Novak: Morgan was deadly in the first match-up scoring 20 points on 8 of 9 shooting. Michigan needs to figure out a way to slow Morgan, who has a large height advantage over Novak.
  • DeShawn Sims vs. MSU Bigs: Michigan needs a big performance from Sims. He was just 4 of 13 on 2 point field goals in the last game and he needs to get it going inside.
  • Durrell Summers/Chris Allen: Allen is Michigan State’s best three point shooter but he will undoubtedly spend much of his time and energy guarding Manny Harris. Allen was held scoreless in the last match-up but the streaky Durrell Summers always seems to hit a few big shots.
  • Draymond Green: Green is the x-factor. He does a little bit of everything and seems to come up with the most important loose balls and offensive rebounds. He’s not physically imposing but he’s incredibly smart and also very strong underneath.
  • Manny Harris vs. Chris Allen: I expect Allen to guard Harris for most of the night. Manny has yet to have a big game versus Michigan State and typically becomes frustrated trying to drive the lane.

When Michigan State has lost games this year it’s been because they were shot out of the gym. MSU opponents are 7-1 when scoring 1.06 points per possession or more and 5 of Michigan State’s 7 losses have come when their opposition shoots an effective field goal percentage higher than 55%. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for Michigan, as they’ve only been able shoot that well in a handful of games (Minnesota twice, at Iowa, at Penn State, Ohio State).

More specifically it comes down to three pointers. MSU tends to give up a few extra open looks from three point range because they hedge the wings to stop penetration. The teams that hit threes have fared exceptionally well. Teams shooting over 34% from three point range are 6-8 versus the Spartans while the teams under that mark are a meager 1-15.

The importance of Novak, Douglass, and even Lucas-Perry hitting some threes is monumental. These guys are going to take some shots and they will definitely get at least a few open looks.  They just need to make them.

Michigan has a few magic numbers of their own. Michigan’s wins and losses tend to be related to their offense. They are 0-13 when they score under .99 points per possession compared to 14-2 when they top that mark. Similarly, Michigan is 12-0 when they score over 66 points and just 0-10 when they fail to reach 60.

I don’t usually buy into the “pressure” arguments but there is no doubt that all of the pressure is on Michigan State. They are playing for a championship and Michigan is playing for pride. Michigan has to come out and just play ball like they can. There’s literally nothing to lose but a win would be a nice way to close an otherwise disappointing season.

Pomeroy likes Michigan State 67 to 59 and gives Michigan only a 19% chance at the victory. I just can’t see Michigan State losing this one, I’ll take Michigan State 70, Michigan 58. Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments.

Other Notes: Practice? Michigan is unable to practice at Crisler this weekend because of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships so they practiced at the Breslin today. They’ll practice at Concordia tomorrow and then head back up to East Lansing on Sunday and just play.

Sam Hosey caught up with Trey Zeigler for an interview and feature. Trey plans to visit Arizona State and Duke before trimming his list then decide on signing day. Hosey also posted video from Mt. Pleasant’s loss to Saginaw Heritage.

That practice facility can’t come soon enough. DeShawn Sims rejected his invitation to participate in the Portsmouth Invitational. Coaches address official workload in the New York Times.

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  • Tweeter

    Sims getting outplayer by a walkon now. Sweet.

  • Tweeter

    uh oh, fat girls behind the announcers. Dont let STate fans know, they think all their girls are hot.

  • AG2

    This game came down to two things: Michigan’s inability to guard a 4 and MSU using its bench to swarm Michigan on defense. After a while, Michigan just quit.

  • Tweeter

    after awhile AG2? I disagree, these guys quit from the moment the ball was tipped. The effort has been a little better of late, but still not great.

  • Old Style

    Turned it on at the half and I’m about to turn it back off. This is crazy.

  • TomThrice

    This is an utter embarrassment. They have shown nothing today. Everyone is at fault from the players to the coaches. This reminds me of 10 years ago when we got blown out of the Breslin Center by 50 points under Ellerbe. Its not quite as bad but just as frustrating.

  • Tweeter

    GIBSON! That is how you finish Mr. Sims.

  • AG2

    That reminds me, what lunatic made Ellerbe our coach, anyway? He was barely an assistant for like 4 months right after getting fired as coach of Loyola Maryland. He shouldn’t have even been considered for interim coach much less promoted. Arizona had enough sense not to even interview Kevin O’Neil for the permanent position even though he got Arizona to the Sweet 16.

  • michigan fan

    In my judgment, this game is a disaster. Some of this is an excellent Mich State team. Some of this is our coaching and some of this we are being out hustled on the court. But by far the biggest thing is they have more talent and more size. I have confidence that Bielein can coach. I have less confidence in him that he can recruit. I think Michigan has enough going for it as a unversity that we should be able to get more basketball talent. I certainly hope so, because these games ae painful to watch!

  • ZRL

    Tom Izzo had a sleepover with his team? That means MSU went over the 20 hours of bball activities allowed per week. CALL THE FREE PRESS!!!

  • Evan

    Anyone know if Trey zeiglers wearing a um shirt?

  • Tweeter

    when was the last time LLP made a shot?

  • AG2

    Dahlman’s such a punk. Only reason he didn’t transfer is because he wanted to be on a winning team. The only reason he played so much today was because Michigan didn’t prove they could beat MSU with him in.

    I hear Izzo wants to move one of these guys who has an extra year left out so he can bring in Zeigler.

  • AG2

    Thanks to Vogrich and Morris this won’t be our worst loss of the season.

  • Mstt

    If Vogrich can improve his defense, he needs to be seeing the court over LLP next year.

  • AG2

    Big Ten Tournament time. Can we beat Iowa, much less OSU?

  • Brian W

    Jordan Morgan’s got his arm in a sling… Didn’t LLP make a shot on the road against Iowa. It’s been few and far between otherwise for him. It’s like playing 4 on 5 when we’re on offense and he’s on the floor.

    Need Trey and a big guy (Horford or Piotrowski) to go with Evan and Hardaway… Manny should come back. He’s not ready for the NBA.

  • Deacon Blues

    We do excel at cleaning up the final score. That was reminiscent of the finish at Purdue.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Yep, AG2, Dahlman sure is a punk. After all, he choose to stay at MSU instead of going somewhere for playing time because of his commitment to and belief in the program. Wanting to be part of a winner? Yep, he’s a punk, alright. Your logic on this one baffles me, though I recognize its self-serving character.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    What a terrible loss; I was not expecting to win but we didn’t even have a chance. Harris and Sims were invisible and no one else could step up. We turned the ball over and couldn’t buy a 3. Man, we need Trey Zeigler for next year and a Manny Harris return, or this is a preview of what every game will be like…

  • Sportsline sez: we matched a B10 low with just 14 in the first half.
    Wonder if that is all-time, or just for this season? Pick your ignominiousness.

    I went to watch the FSU women lay a bazillion points on WVU a few weeks ago. I’m not ragging on these guys in a sexist way–I know it’s a different game, etc. But dang, Michigan makes it look so hard to put the ball in the bucket. Epically hard.

    And then you have all those wonderful stats ESPN showed where Michigan is almost tops in the country at fewest turnovers and stuff. WTF? Beilein won’t have a hair left on that head.

  • JRose

    Wow, Manny 1-10, 4pts, and the one fg was a bank from the ft line…seems to be a trend for him against State. If coach is a shooters coach, It would be scary if he wasn’t! I’d think Manny should be back, everyone else SHOULD improve. Another repeat of this year and I’ll start to worry about Coach…at this point I still have faith.

  • Paul

    Manny no longer has a shot to get drafted in the 1st round this year. He needs to return for his sr season. LLP needs to be @ the end of the bench this coming season

  • Tweeter

    Yea I think its almost safe to say at this point, that we will be better next year for no reason other than we can’t possible shoot this bad again. It’s not like this team is bad at shooting threes alone, they are bad at free throws, layups, midrange jumpers, you name it.

    You gotta think that they bought too much into the preseason hype and once they lost a few to not great competition (Alabama, Utah, BC), the confidence just ran away at Usain Bolt speed. Even still I really hope that Smotrycz and Hardaway along with whoever else joins this class, bring some toughness.

    I know we are undersized and I understand when we get out rebounded or a guy makes a post move over us, but a lot of what happened today was just State playing tougher than us. It wasnt because they were better or bigger, they just wanted it more and the UM players did not respond at all when they got hit in the mouth.

  • Tweeter

    Paul, I dont think Manny has a shot to be drafted at all. Im not even sure he would be in the top 100 of NBA prospects at this point.

  • Drew

    This Is not Beleins fault. I agree with Tweeter in that the players have to make the shots at the end of the day. The offense is very effective at getting good looks, but good looks are just that if they don’t go in. Is there any chance we get Zeigler after today?

  • Paul

    Thats it! Now, I can’t show up for work tomorrow.

  • ToBlav

    Out muscled. This game showed that without an inside game you can’t make the outside game work, just like vise versa.

  • Paul

    I agree – that we were out-toughed and out-hearted! I don’t think those are Beilein-teaching strengths, but they sure are Izzo-teaching strengths unfortunately

  • Paul

    IT – MSU players aren’t exactly lighting the NBA world on fire

  • JB

    IT – Great questions! Maybe he’s a serious student athlete who values his education and aspires to write paragraphs composed of complete sentences. Also, I’m sure Trey took note of the professional superstars surrounding him at today’s game: mateen cleaves, charley bell and goran suton (none of whom would be recognized outside of the Breslin). I heard marcus taylor was there too.

  • All time, I think both teams have put about as many players in the NBA–I remember googling this not long ago. Even now, I’m not sure who MSU has in the league–Mo Pete, Jason Richardson. . . UM has Jamal and Juwan. . . anyone else?

    Izzo has a nice thing going and I like him, but I hate the way MSU plays. I live in Tallahassee and am grateful I get to watch the ACC in action; much as I love my Michigan the B10 is brutal. This year’s MSU team turns the ball over a lot and don’t shoot well–I will be surprised if they get more than a couple of rounds this year.

    Having said that, I wish them the best, and hope we can be truly competitive w. them very soon.

  • Let’s quit the name calling and mindless arguing please…

  • AG2

    Thomas, what exactly makes you say that? Has Huggins recruited better? Has he gotten them farther in the tournament? Has he won a Big East title? No.

    And Mattski, have you SEEN florida state play this season? They’re all athleticism and no skill. Other than Dulkys and Kitchen there isn’t a single guy on that team that doesn’t struggle to put the ball in the basket. I wasn’t surprised at all when Wisconsin beat them in the first round last year.

    You couldn’t pay me to watch FSU play Mississippi State.

    And as for IT, I’m pretty sure Manny chose Michigan because he wanted to stay close to home for his family.

  • I’m as fed up as the rest of you… The personal stuff is just too much and just pollutes the whole site.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    I just want to clarify that “intrpdtrvlr” and “IT” are not the same dude. I really try to avoid being overly argumentative or taking petty shots on this blog.

    And for Mattski, throw the names Zach Randolph and Shannon Brown out there. Can’t forget those guys.
    I saw Courtney Sims playing a few minutes recently for the Hawks.

  • Bill

    This is almost as bad as Mlive forums too bad Dylan used to be a great place to talk UM basketball.

  • Bill: It’s frustrating but it’ll cool down.

  • Tweeter

    Its funny, I didnt look at this site for the last three hours or so, and reading the posts it makes no sense. I assume a ton of posts got removed.

    Dylan, got to give you a lot of credit. You do a fantastic job with content and moderating the comments. I am almost drunk enough at this point that I dont remember too much from the game. Thank gosh.

    I really hope fans dont get too discouraged from this year, because next year this team should be better.

  • AG2

    Hold up, if I remember properly…Chris Hunter started a few games for the Warriors!

    I’m telling you, IT, the Big Ten won’t be considered a good conference until Wisconsin has a losing season. Conferences are defined by their good teams, and right now that means MSU and Slow Wisconsin. OSU has demonstrated a reputation for a talented team with a coach who holds them back.

  • Wisconsin is going to beat some people in the tournament. Those guys can play. They epitomize the conference, and you can say it’s a bad thing, but they surprise people EVERY year and just win.

    As Duke, Marquette, or Florida State what they think of Wisconsin’s play. If Wisconsin can knock off Illinois and Ohio State in Indianapolis I think they couple be a three seed who could make some noise. Jon Leuer is back and that team is good.