Game 31: Michigan State at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Michigan State (17-12) at Michigan (18-12) michigan state logo
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 5th
TV: CBS / Coverage Map / Official Video Stream
Radio: MGoBlue / WTKA 1050 AM /Sirius Ch. 122 / XM Ch. 143
Opposition Blog: The Only Colors
Last Time: Michigan 61, Michigan State 57
More: Beilein Video / Player Video / Merritt Q&A / Pick to Click

“That’s a game that can turn your season around” – Zack Novak after Michigan beat Michigan State in East Lansing.

The differences between this Michigan team and last year’s team are best illuminated by how their seasons turned at the end of January. Michigan hosted Michigan State around that time last year and lost in devastating fashion as DeShawn Sims’ desperation layup rolled off the rim at the buzzer. The loss moved Michigan to 10-10 (3-5) and they would only beat two other teams, Iowa (three times) and Minnesota (twice), over the next two months. That regular season ended with a disheartening loss at Michigan State that looked more like a Spartan victory lap than an actual game. Michigan scored just 14 first half points and the game ended with Michigan State’s seniors kissing the block-S in the middle of the court.

This year, Michigan traveled to East Lansing on the tail end of a six game losing streak and accomplished what felt impossible. The Wolverines won the game then used that momentum to kick off a 7-3 stretch over the next month. Now the Wolverines have a chance to complete the turnaround, clinch a Big Ten Tournament bye, and bolster their NCAA Tournament resume. All that lies in the way is their in-state rival, a team that has been to back-to-back Final Fours and is coached by a man that lives for this rivalry.

(Jan 27, 2011) Draymond Green gets his fourth foul on this play under the Spartan Basket with Zack Novak in the second half as MSU hosts UM Thursday evening at Breslin Center in East Lansing.  (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News) 2011.20110127211609_012711-dy-UMvMSUmbkb0140[1](Jan 27, 2011) Zack Novak(0) shoots a three-pointer over the top of Delvon Roe(10) as MSU hosts UM Thursday evening at Breslin Center in East Lansing.  (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News) 2011.
Photos: Detroit News

Michigan did a lot of things right in the first match-up. First off, the Wolverines shot the ball extremely well and managed to hit 52% of their twos and 48% of their threes. The second key to that game was Michigan’s ability to control the defensive glass, rebounding 74% of Michigan State’s missed shots. Shooting is obviously key in any game, but defensive rebounding is absolutely critical against Michigan State, the league’s second best offensive rebounding team.

Scoring the ball has been a laborious process for this year’s Spartan squad. Michigan State is scoring just 1.02 points per trip in conference play, a mark which ranks 10th in the Big Ten. The shooting numbers are even more grim as the Spartans are shooting 48% on twos (9th) and 31% on threes (9th) for a league worst 48% effective field goal percentage in Big Ten games. Turnovers were a huge problem for Michigan State early on but the Spartans have gradually improved in that department, turning the ball over on a respectable 19% (7th) of their possessions in conference play. The strength of this Michigan State offense is the same as the rest of Izzo’s teams: offensive rebounding.

Things have been a bit turbulent on Tom Izzo’s bench. Kalin Lucas limped into the season on a damaged Achilles. Chris Allen transferred. Derrick Nix almost transferred and didn’t travel to Maui. Durrell Summers has failed to find consistency. Korie Lucious was dismissed from the team and will transfer to Iowa State. Now, senior walk-on Mike Kebler has started the last four games.

Michigan State’s season has been declared dead multiple times but Kalin Lucas continues to lead the Spartans back. Lucas is averaging 21 points per game over the last 10 games and has done everything within his power to make up for Michigan State’s backcourt deficiencies. Durrell Summers is averaging just 7.6 points in those last 10 games and hasn’t reached double figures since January. Keith Appling has been up and down offensively but is coming off of an 18 point and six rebound performance on 7 of 8 (4-5 3pt) shooting, one of the best games of his career.

Michigan’s defense was extremely effective in limiting scoring opportunities for Michigan State’s big men in the first meeting. Draymond Green scored 9 points on 8 shots but Michigan State’s other bigs combined to score just 1 point, a Delvon Roe free throw. Michigan State matched Michigan’s small lineup in that game, opting to play Green almost exclusively at the power forward position and barely playing Nix (6 mins), Sherman (5 mins) or Payne (3 mins). Michigan State needs production from this group and will likely make every effort to get them going early, perhaps trying to match a taller lineup against Michigan’s smaller lineup.

Photo: Detroit News

Michigan State’s defense hasn’t quite been elite this year but it has been good enough to win games. The Spartans rank fifth in the Big Ten, allowing 1.06 points per trip in conference games. As you would expect, Michigan State is a terrific defensive rebounding team that manages to grab 72% of its opponents’ missed shots. The Spartan defense does have some weaknesses. Despite holding opponents to 47% inside the arc, Michigan State has the 9th best free throw rate (FTA/FGA) allowed in conference games and has also allowed Big Ten opponents to shoot 39% from three point range.

The post season starts now if Michigan wants to make the NCAA tournament. A win will keep Michigan on the right side of the bubble while a loss would push the Wolverines into the NIT, barring a miraculous Big Ten Tournament run. Ken Pomeroy gives Michigan a 64% chance at victory and projects a 64-61 final. The fact that Michigan won in East Lansing obviously proves that the Wolverines are capable of winning this game. However, I still have that sinking feeling that something will go wrong. Here’s to hoping that the only thing wrong is my prediction: Michigan State 64, Michigan 63.

  • JimC


  • Fred

    State sucks. We win by 8.

    • Fred

      Oops – 7.

  • Steve Kim

    unfortunately, state is the more complete team. they are also playing well right now (much better than when we faced them in EL). Also, ken pom treats this as a road game, but unfortunately MSU is usually well represented in crisler and so that projection is misleading. Also, many U of M students are still on spring break. Still, I hope that THJ and D-Mo have the games of their lives in what shapes to be the biggest game between these 2 teams in a very long time.

    • Azad

      State is the more complete team?? They’ve basically been a two man show with Kalin Lucas and Draymond Green, they got beat down by 20 by Purdue a week ago, they’ve gotten a few wins but no one particularly elite…overall they probably have more basketball talent but I would say we’re playing better team ball at this point for sure.

      • Steve Kim

        How are we not a two man show? Look at our scoring and usage rates…I think you will be surprised. I just think if the big men group of Roe/Nix/Sherman/Payne/Green performs at even 50% of its potential level…we have nothing that compete with that consistently – both offensively and defensively. I do think that dmo and lucas are essentially a wash. I guess we will have to wait and see. I will love to be wrong…but I just have this feeling (can’t really justify it) that we are going to lose…

        • Azad

          With Hardaway and Morgan’s emergence, and the contributions we still continue to get from Novak and Douglass, I wouldn’t call us a 2 man team. In terms of people who actually CREATE offense, I agree, it’s Morris and Hardaway. Maybe this is just semantics, but when I hear “complete team”, I think a team that is operating closer to its potential, a team that has everyone in their best roles, and a team that is playing with great chemistry. Maybe I’m defining it wrong, but under my standard I would say we’re a far more complete team than Michigan State.

          Those big men you mentioned, outside of Green, have barely performed at 50% of their potential level all season, so IF they all play at their best MSU’s better than us, but what indication do we have this season that that is going to happen?

        • DFORD

          Get out of here sparty, your are actually going to argue on how That team in East Lansing is going to pummel us,man please what a joke… Go Blue!!!!

        • billiam

          So you’re saying that these guys have been playing at 50% their potential the whole year, right? What makes you think they’ll be playing any better against us?

          I hate that word potential. Doesn’t mean anything.

      • Nick

        I totally agree. State has not looked fluid at all the entire season. I blame Izzo. He either refuses to make, or fails to identify, the adjustments during the course of a game. Plus, this MSU team doesn’t score huge amounts of points when facing an average D. They didn’t even score 50 against Purdue – I know Purdue is a very good defensive team, but come on…score in the 40’s is just horrible. I look for UM to win by 12.

        This is Webster’s (Kalin) second to last non-YMCA game!

        • Fred_Ex

          Who are the to players seriously, MSU has Kalin Lucas and then some other guys score, at random. I almost fell out of my chair when dude brought up Nix. What? That kid fat and slow. No disrespect but there’s a reason he was coming off the bench. If he plays 5 minutes a half he acts like he’s been in a 12 round fight. The dude sweats Mountain Dew. Watch their faces tomorrow they all breathe from their mouth. Playing at 50% of their potential, then so were we. What can be affirmed without proof can be dismissed without proof. And we can’t compensate for our lack of size. Common we were playing at the same height when we beat you in East Lansing. None of MSU’s bigs can shoot at all.

  • ZRL

    It seems like Dylan and others are stuck up on the front of the jersey. MSU is not a good team. They are not a talented team. They have 2 players, 0 point guards (don’t try to tell me Lucas is a pg), and poor chemistry, much like we did last year.

    Mich 71
    MSU 63

    I hope MSU makes the tourney so everyone else can predict them to make a run because of Izzo while I watch them lose in the first round.

  • AG2

    One thing that should help Michigan is that with Mike Kebler in the starting lineup its like having to only guard 4 people. Unfortunately, one of those people is Kalin Lucas. I could easily see Lucas taking over the game like Jordan Taylor did last night. Smotrycz is going to have to d-up in a serious way vs. Roe/Nix/Sherman/Payne/Green if Novak is going to have the chance to score.

    We’re going to need to shoot well to win this game, but if we can’t then we’re going to have to practice smart ball movement to get good looks inside or get to the free throw line. And this time, no mistakes at the ft line!

  • KAB

    Dyaln,your killing me.No way we lose another close one at home!


  • KAB


    • Mith

      and you’re ;>)

  • Mattski

    Look for MSU to establish a bruising atmosphere early. Look for Michigan to be ready.

  • Jeff

    Southern Illinois just choked away a chance to be the hero of bubble teams everywhere by blowing a 9 pt lead with under 3 to play against Missouri State. May not make a difference if Missouri State rebounds to win the conference tournament. Anyway, it definitely won’t matter to us if we don’t take care of business tomorrow. Never would have dreamed we’d be in this situation going into the season. Go blue!

  • Kenny

    Play smart and stay poised, if refs do not give Sparties green light for over aggressiveness, prepare to rush the floor guys.

    I live in NY and wish the game was on BTN instead. Screw CBS for showing the entire northeast region a west coast game few cares about.

    • UMQuasi

      I’m not going to the game tomorrow, but this message is for all those who are. Do Not, under any circumstances, rush the court if we win. I hope that was a joke/exaggeration Kenny

      • gpsimms

        i don’t think the importance of this game can be understated, and i have been listening to hype surrounding this game all week.

        if we win, and moreover if we win in some particularly exciting fashion, and the kids get carried away and rush the court, so be it. don’t give me “m beating msu is the way its supposed to be, they’re a .500 team, etc”

        i am in full support of college kids enjoying an exciting atmosphere which, when they become older like myself, they will never be able to experience again.

        • Mattski

          In this case it might deliver an unsubtle but useful message to recruits and State fans. I’d be for it.

          • Mattski

            Showing that this school cares about hoop is not a bad thing, either.

        • UMQuasi

          I’m not making the “that’s the way it’s supposed to be” argument. I’m just saying that, regardless of recent success, a team with a National Championship banner in the rafters should not rush the court after beating a bubble team.

          In response to Mattski below, I think it sends the opposite message to recruits–I think it sends a message of inferiority. Also, without all of the students in town, there is a good chance it would be a half-hearted court rushing, which looks really sad on TV (e.g. UConn game last year).

          • gpsimms

            you’re right. i bet trey zeigler picked cmu because of the uconn win and students rushing the court. good point.

            dude, relax. let the kids have fun. even in the uconn game, which was a meaningless win against a mediocre team, im sure the kids enjoyed running out on the court.

    • cner16

      @Kenny – CBS streams games online.

    • Sam

      We will not be rushing the court tomorrow after we win.

      • Justin

        ^^he knows^^

  • Skitchbeatz

    I think the sinking feeling is just because michigan has had a week off. I have it too. I have confidence in the coaches to prepare the team though so we should see a good game. I’m just worried that State will fix what worked well for us in january

    • Chris

      well said. that exactly how i feel. im going to the game…dont want to have my heartbroken…to many heartbreakers already this season

    • Azad

      We are also a much different team than we were that day at Breslin. We have been winning games since then without much offensive contribution from Novak; Hardaway and Morgan have been completely different players since then. If we can get some positive contributions from Douglass and Novak, with the young guys doing what they’ve been doing, we should be in good shape.

  • steve sharik

    I have a bad feeling about this game, and almost none of it is objective. The only things they have going for them is talent and revenge. Perhaps that’s enough, maybe even more than enough. But we’ve had a full week to prepare (compared to their 2 days) and our players haven’t had classes to distract them from this game.

    I expect them to get the ball inside early and often, not only to open things up for Lucas, Summers, and Appling, but also to get Morgan in foul trouble.

    Here’s hoping we finally get some of that B1G home cooking we always watch on TV but rarely get to see at Crisler. I also hope that those students (and other M fans) that will be there bring some brooms and get to use them.

    • steve sharik

      Furthermore, as has been the case during Beilein’s tenure here (save for the first season), if Novak and/or Douglass go off from three, book it.

      • steve sharik

        P.P.S. M is 12-4 when Morris goes for 8+ assists, 10-1 when it’s 9 or more. Of course, a lot of that has to do with my previous post.

        • Azad

          Another random stat to pile on-we are 16-0 when scoring 65+ points, 2-12 when we don’t… 1 of those 2 wins though is the game @ Breslin.

  • AG2

    What a crazy day at the Big Ten Women’s tournament. Michigan gets beat up by the dead last team in the Big Ten, Illinois. Michigan beat Illinois twice this season, yet somehow the Lady Illini bounce back from a 12 game losing streak to end the year by advancing to the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals. Kinda like the year the Illinois men advanced to the final as an 11 seed.

    • gpsimms

      anyone have any idea if that ruined our tournament chances?

      • Alex

        Michigan was an eight seed according to ESPN’s Bracketology. This may drop the team a sed line or two but u think it would take a lot to keel them out of the Tourney based on that seed level. I am basing this off of following the Men’s game and how re Bubble operates.

  • sven

    Michigan 71 Michigan State 61

  • MikeSal

    I’ve had an upset stomach all week thinking about this game. This game is important but it doesn’t define our season in any way. People have not expected anything from us all season and each time we come out and show ’em what we got. Tomorrow we have to play with our heads just as much with our hearts. The atmosphere is going to be electric. We have to make sure we move our feet and contest shots. Kalin is going to get his but if we can keep Green and Summers under control we have a damn good chance.

    FWIW, Payne has really developed since the last time we saw him. He looks more comfortable in the post and they should try and get him going early. Need Smot and Morgan to play physical and smart. They are going to try and make Novak and Douglas put the ball on the floor so shooters better be ready cause opportunities will be there. If we hit open shots, defend, and rebound (!) there is no reason we shouldn’t win. Relish the moment and take it’s going to be wild!

    GO BLUE!

    • cner16

      Agree with you about this game not defining the season. With some of the students on break, it is paramount that the blue rage come prepared to fill in for the absent maize ragers.


    (In Bart Starr voice) CAN’T WAIT!!!

    • JD

      Bart Scott

      • DFORD

        Ny bad Scott, good looking lol

  • JD


    Go Blue!

  • gpsimms

    there are some pretty significant developments since we last met sparty:

    #1, as mentioned above, the young sparty bigs are contributing a lot more. i think this is huge. morgan didn’t score a bunch against state last time, but as dylan mentioned green had trouble converting near the basket. i think state is going to be + from the big men in the paint.

    #2, and i think this one is more important, is that thjr went 3-12/1-4 in the first game against them. since then, he has shot well from outside in every game. it’s going to take timely buckets from stu and zack, but if thjr plays like he has been, it’s not going to take another 6 3’s from novak to beat them.

  • I have sinking feeling about this game, based on nothing other than the fact that being a Michigan fan has been tortuous for the past few years (in football and basketball). The pessimist in me thinks that State finally plays like a great team, but I’m going to have to say

    MSU – 58
    Michigan – 62

  • Alex

    Just can’t come out flat. This is the last 40 minutes of regular season basketball. Against the biggest basketball rival. They are going to give it their best shot. Our team’s got to give their shot.

  • Evan

    Go Blue!…. But no sweep this year, not with this youth. It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season. Another agonizingly close loss…

  • Greyblue

    Share Dylan’s sinking feeling at times, but Coach had a week to prepare and I’ll bet he has had more than a belly full of the Great Izzo, who predicted a win to the Spartan rabble.

    M will be ready for this one.

  • TRUBLU78

    I want this win sooooo bad……..My hate for State is at all time high. GO BLUE

  • KAB

    Go Blue!!!

  • Kenny

    sad story. A high schooler in Michigan died of cardiac unrest the moment after he made game winning shot in the final game of an undefeated regular season.

  • SJWolv

    GR III hit a three pointer at the buzzer in regulation to send Lake Central to overtime against underrated Munster. LC lost in overtime by one but it sounds like the little dog has clutch in him.

    • SJWolv

      I meant undefeated, iPhone predictive text screwed me up.

  • maxwell’s demon

    I’m trying to think objectively about this game and I simply think Michigan is the better basketball team. They have a hell of a coach and two outstanding players. MSU also has a hell of a coach and while they have at least one outstanding player (maybe 2 with Green) I just think Michigan is playing better basketball. I expect a close hard fought game but with it being in Ann Arbor I think Michigan is going to pull it off. I think Michigan fans have been so inured to failure lately that they are expecting a let down, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Can’t wait for the game and Go Blue.

  • Steve Kim

    As a current undergrad (junior), I think that part of my hesitance to feel optimistic was the debacle of last year. i just don’t want to get excited again like I was after our tourney year for fear of such a painful letdown again. If we beat state tomorrow I will be ecstatic…if not, i will support the team in the NIT but still will wonder about a bunch of what if scenarios that would have got us into the big dance.

  • sven

    Max Bielfeldt had 28 points tonight in PND’s regional championship win over Galesburg tonight after being held scoreless for the entire first qtr.

    Though the article mentions Galesburg really didn’t have anyone Max’s size to match up with him. Their biggest guy was 6’5 180lbs.

  • Kainkitizen

    Its the most exciting pregame i can remember since the Fab5 taking on Christian Laettner and #1Duke at Crisler Arena.

  • redwings8831

    Michigan 81
    MSU 73

  • KRN

    CBS Sports preview of the upcoming game:

    Be very afraid since it looks it looks like Tim Doyle’s nickname has spread outside of the BTN inner circle.

    • JimC


  • junderground

    Thank you very much for posting the CBS stream!
    Michigan 59
    MSU 52

  • El Capitan

    As a senior at U of M, I. Am. Terrified. Straight up. My four years at this great school has given me both memories (beating Tim Tebow, 2009 tourney berth) and heartbreak (I’m not listing them). Sadly, I have seen a lot more heartbreak over the last four years, and as a result I really fear we lose in a nail-biter. Call me a pessimist, but you can’t blame me after seeing the last four years of football and basketball as a student.

    This is the last game that the cursed class of 2011 will see – next year’s team is making a mad run through the big dance without my class to weigh them down.

    MSU 55
    Michigan 53

    Missed free throws and a long three ball that goes in and out (a la Hardaway’s shot against Syracuse) will screw us over. And somebody like Kebler or Appling will hit an improbable shot late to put the nail in the coffin.

    We’ll do all we can in our depleted Maize Rage to help this team out.

    • Brian W

      The Michigan basketball team made the tournament for the first time in a long time during your time at Michigan, so I wouldn’t equate the bad hiring of Rich Rod with a curse on the entire University.

      Bring a swagger and confidence to Crisler today. The team needs to feed off the possible and keep pushing ahead with what they’ve done over the last 10 games. Leave the fear of failure at home. Time to put in the work and get it done.

  • KAB

    UM is favored by 1.5.

  • UMQuasi

    They were predicting the game on 1st and 10. Both guys (Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb) predicted an MSU victory. The notable part, however, is the lack of knowledge from both of them, or even the host for that matter.

    Gottlieb started talking about how MSU will have to face the 1-3-1 all game, and Katz agreed. Then the host spoke about Michigan’s up-and-down season, as evidenced by the fact that Michigan has been in and out of Lunardi’s brackets all year.

    Good to know that they 1) Have apparently never seen Michigan play & 2) Don’t even follow their own network’s bracketology

    • JimC


    • chitownblue

      yeah, when you read anyone who isn’t working the Michigan beat, you’ll be bludgeoned with references to our 1-3-1, which we may play for 3 possessions in half our games.

      I understand it’s hard to be familiar with 80+ BCS teams, but that’s sort of why national analysts aren’t very insightful.

    • Jeff

      Let’s add this Digger Phelps classic to the discussion. I’m paraphrasing here, but here’s what he said about Michigan: “I saw them lose to Kansas in overtime, and I said, they can’t beat good teams”. Yeah, that adds up. Classic Digger.

  • JimC

    In the immortal words of Tallahassee,
    Time to nut up or shut up!

    • El Capitan

      I’m not very good at good-byes, so… that’ll do pig.

  • Drae

    Need Smotz to contribute today… he really hasn’t had a good offensive game in quite awhile… all hands on deck for this!

  • Drae

    How is that a stray comment? Just a thought, we really need Smotz to come out of his slump and hit some shots today…

    • JimC

      Your comment is not stray. I want to delete MY comment from 5:12pm below, which was a reply to a now-deleted “flamer” comment. Make sense?

      Anyway, totally agree about Metrics, and he’s due for some more offense!

      • Drae

        Gotcha Jim C…

  • Worry if: Jordan Morgan gets in foul trouble.
    Cackle with knowing glee if: We are hot from 3 early on.