Game 21: Michigan at Michigan State Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Michigan (11-9) at Michigan State (12-7) michigan state logo
Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
When: January 27th, 2011, 7:00 PM
Radio: MGoBlue / WWWW 102.9 FM/Sirius Ch. 122/XM Ch. 143
Opposition Blog: The Only Colors
Pick to Click / MSU Q&A / U-M Q&A / Beilein Vid / Players

Things haven’t been pretty when Michigan travels to East Lansing. The Wolverines haven’t won at the Breslin Center since 1997 and, quite frankly, they haven’t come close. The best and worst recent Michigan teams have all been blown out at the Breslin Center no matter if it was Dion Harris, Avery Queen, Daniel Horton, or Dani Wohl that started at point guard. Over the past decade, Michigan has failed to keep the margin of defeat in single digits and has scored an average of just 23 points in the first half.

Michigan State’s offense lives off of the offensive rebound. The Spartans don’t particularly care for the other nuances of offense – shooting, preventing turnovers, and getting to the line — but their rebounding more than makes up for their other deficiencies. Despite a rebounding advantage fueled by superior athleticism, Michigan State actually tends to shoot more jumpshots. The Spartans don’t get to the line often (FTA/FGA 36%) and shoot more threes than most Izzo-led teams. Michigan State’s below average two point shooting percentage, 47%, infers that the Spartans are taking more two point jumpshots than layups and dunks. Turnovers were a problem for Michigan State in non-conference play but the problem seems to be under control in the Big Ten with a turnover rate comfortably in the middle of the pack.

Defensively, Michigan State plays the same hard nosed, physical defense that the Big Ten has grown accustomed to. Games at the Breslin Center are called a special way, you can expect a little more hand checking and a more physical game overall. As per usual, the strength of Michigan State’s defense is not allowing good shots. Spartan opponents have an effective field goal percentage of just 46%, mostly due to 43% two point shooting. Michigan State has given up some quality looks from three point range where opponents are shooting 36%. Michigan State doesn’t force many turnovers and, as you would suspect, defensive rebounding is a strength.

((CAPTION))  Kalin Lucas eludes the Wolverines as MSU beats UM  54-42, at Crisler arena in Ann Arbor Tuesday night. ( Dale G. Young / The Detroit News) 2009.

With Korie Lucious’ dismissal, a Michigan State team that was touted as one of Izzo’s deepest ever suddenly finds a void of depth in the backcourt. Against Michigan, the Spartans might not miss Lucious much. In two games versus Michigan last season the guard had just 3 points in 40 minutes total on 1 of 9 shooting with one assist to five turnovers. The problem for Michigan State is that Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, and Keith Appling are the only scholarship guards left on the roster. If you are going to be stuck with three guys for three positions, there are certainly worse options.

Lucas has probably hit more clutch shots than anyone in the Big Ten but Talor Battle. Summers carried Michigan State to the Final Four with his torrid three point shooting. Appling, a bonafide scorer in high school, has developed into Michigan State’s best perimeter defender. Sure, the trio has weaknesses – lingering injury concerns, consistency, or youth – but they are good enough to carry a team. Walk-ons Austin Thornton and Mike Kelber are also likely to see playing time with Lucious out.

Lucious’ dismissal could have the greatest effect on do-it-all forward Draymond Green. Green, who is averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, and four assists per game in conference play, will likely have to spend more time at the three rather than his more natural four position. Don’t be surprised if Green even cameos in a “point forward” role at times. Green has the ability to play the three but he has had some difficulty defending the position and might not be quite as effective.

Low post scoring has been a bit of a problem for Michigan State this year but Delvon Roe’s size and athleticism on the block will undoubtedly give Michigan problems. Michigan State has other options on the block – skill, size, and athleticism in Garrick Sherman, Derrick Nix, and Adreian Payne respectively.

Michigan needs to figure out a way to get stops which means field goal percentage defense, defensive rebounding, and keeping Michigan State off of the free throw line are vastly important. These have all been areas of concern for Michigan over the last month and if Michigan State scores the ball as easily as other Big Ten opponents, this one will be over before it starts. Offensively, you can bet that Michigan is going to struggle to get clean looks at the basket. The Wolverines will very likely settle for quite a few threes and they are going to have to make close to 40% of their long range attempts to have a legitimate shot at the upset.

Pomeroy likes Michigan State by 9, 67-58, in a 62 possession game.  I have a tough time predicting a game that close. Michigan State’s strengths and weaknesses seem to play directly into Michigan’s and as underwhelming as the Spartans have been playing, Michigan has been worse.

  • Cadillac Rob

    hope we don’t get killed tonight, a nine point loss would almost seem like a victory, great read as always

  • Alex

    That just about sums it up. They do play the games for a reason but Michigan has not played well the last few games. Would be such a huge victory if they could take it and maybe get some people off of Beilein’s back.

  • MikeSal

    State’s strengths do play into UM’s weaknesses. I’m looking for them to come out and compete and get in someone’s face. Unfortunately, cause a lot of frosh will see the floor tonight the odds are not in our favor. Hope the crowd doesn’t play a factor tonight and we get some rebounds!

  • Tweeter

    I know I have been saying this for weeks, but this looks like another game where the 1-3-1 should be employed extensively. With only one experienced guard playing, our best chance is to use a defense that may force some turnovers and sloppy play. As I have also continually stated over the last few weeks, I have absolutely no faith in our man defense to get stops. The thing that bothered me against Minny is that we used the 1-3-1, gave up some open shots, then went away from it. I think the 1-3-1 is a defense you have to be willing to stick with even when it gives up some quick, easy baskets. Over time, it will force some turnovers which is more than I can say about the attempted man defense we have been playing.

    On offense, I dont think this is a game where we can out execute State considering as Dylan pointed out, that the game will be officiated loosely at the breslin. Therefore, I would suggest we just let it fly tonight. Take the first open look and hope we make a ton of threes.

  • tin mad dog

    Nothing would be better than to upset spartie to end the losing streak. It’s going to take a near perfect game from us to do so.

    GO BLUE!!!

  • tin mad dog

    If there’s any way for us to get their guards in foul trouble and keep Jordan Morgan out of foul trouble, that would be huge. Darius & TH jr. need to be aggressive.

  • billiam

    As dylan and Tweeter pointed out, this game will be officiated loosely. I don’t expect MSU to have foul trouble. HOWEVA! I hope THJ and DMo drive just so I can see they can drive on good teams. Here’s to hoping.

    If the expectations are so low, you can’t really go anywhere but up. All it takes is one or two upsets and we’re good for the year.

  • KAB

    I have watched State play alot and I just dont think that they are very good.They are a bubble team and If we can hit some shots early and keep it close then it could go are way.Something just looks wrong with this MSU team this year so now’s are chance!


  • AG2

    State is not a bubble team. Have you seen how weak the bubble is this year? Its almost weaker than last year, and add to that the expanded field. I can name almost 20 teams that would be farther down the bubble than MSU.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Agree. State is no bubble team. I would be absolutely shocked if they didn’t make the NCAA tournament. I see somewhere from a 6-8 seed as things stand now. Despite their struggles, they have played the toughest schedule in college basketball.

  • unghung

    DMO bout to go offfff

  • grandchamp

    Turnovers are the great equalizer and MSU will turn the ball over a lot tonight.

  • KAB

    Agreed,I guess the bubble teams are weak this year and MSU RPI is pretty high.But still if we are going to win at The Breslin this is the year to do it…Have to make open shots though and find a way to keep Morgan out of foul trouble.

  • Merlin

    If we can keep it close I will be surprised. The team has hit a wall and with the dismissal of Lucious State will be inspired for at least a few games.