Egad! All the Detroit sports columnists have discovered that college basketball is being played in these here parts!
Bob Wojnowski praises Kalin Lucas’ contribution to MSU’s win last night. These words from Izzo are encouraging:
I’ve said he has a chance to be a special player here. He’s got that athletic ability and he’s getting better every day. He’s starting to understand the offense more and more. I’d like to have that ball in his hands more. (Emphasis added.)
Michael Rosenberg notes it’s good when the Spartans can win in different ways, as they did last night without Morgan available for most of the game.
On the national scene, Seth Davis weighs in on the Spartans. He actually goes pretty easy on them given that this column was written right after the Iowa loss. But he likes IU’s long-term potential more than MSU’s due to Gordon and White. He says:
So here’s my take. The Spartans can beat anyone, but in terms of winning a championship or reaching the Final Four, they (like a lot of teams) have a pretty slim margin for error.
I think that’s a fair statement.
Grant Wahl has posted his “Magic Eight”–the eight teams he guarantees the national champion will come from. Not surprisingly, MSU is not on the list. More surprisingly, North Carolina is not on the list. IU is on the list. Put it on the bulletin board! Let’s go all the way and stick it to him! Well, let’s beat the Gophers Sunday, at least.
In the blogosphere, Happy Valley Hoops has the early conference-only tempo-free stats up. As former readers of the Big Ten Wonk know, conference-only stats are the Holy Grail of basketball statistical analysis (because they, more or less, even out difficulty of schedule as the season progresses). So kudos to HVH for compiling and posting them–with nifty interactive graphs to boot. MSU highlights/lowlights:
- Only eighth in offensive efficiency: 95.0.
- But third in defensive efficiency: 92.8. (No doubt the Iowa game is skewing both of these numbers.)
- Dead smack average (6th) in efficiency margin (+2.26).
- First in offensive rebounding % (40.2%) and second in defensive rebounding % (76.3%).
- Worst turnover %–by a wide margin (25.4% vs. Iowa’s second worst 20.7%).
- And worst defensive turnover % (15.6).
So, whatever you do, do not look at the turnover margin graph. It’s UGly.
P.S. Condolences to HVH and Penn State fans everywhere on the loss of Geary Claxton to an ACL tear for the season (and his career). It’s a loss to the entire conference to lose a player of his abilities.