Joe Rexrode has a great bunch of notes and observations about things in Houston up on his blog. As TMadison noted in the comments section, Gray’s toe has improved but he tweaked his knee in practice. Hopefully, he’s good to go to give us at least a few minutes, pull down some defensive rebounds, and absorb a few fouls tonight. Regarding Calipari, Rexrode notes that (1) he’s figured out that MSU isn’t a slow-down team (Rats!) and (2) he may have played a role in keeping Izzo from bolting to the NBA.
Eleven Warriors gives a thumbs down to the raised floors in Houston and Detroit. I’d agree this is troublesome. Having been to the Final Four at the Metrodome, I think moving the court to the middle of the football field is a good idea; the current Final Four setup makes for bizarre seating arrangements. But I don’t understand why they need to raise the floor to do it. On the positive side, maybe this gives Big Ten teams an advantage since we have to play at Williams Arena every year.
Drew Neitzel also apparently had an epiphany after the loss in Madison. Interesting piece on the interaction between Izzo and Neitzel, who have very different personalities.
Another behind-the-scenes look at the personal touch of Tom Izzo.
“Chris Douglas-Roberts, slighted by Spartans has point to prove.” Or so says the headline. The reality appears to be less dramatic:
That’s why Douglas-Roberts said this week he harbors no ill will toward Michigan State or Izzo, that there’s no motivation tonight beyond a berth in the Elite Eight.
Badgercentric provides his thoughts on tonight’s Wisconsin-Davidson game (which is in the earlier time slot). It will be interesting to watch the match-up of Flowers guarding Stephen Curry.
Beyond the Arc notes that the oddsmakers like Wisconsin much less than Kenpom’s numbers do (4.5 points vs. 9 points). Even this far into the season, the national experts/bettors still don’t believe Wisconsin is as good as their stats say they are.
Our Spartans go into tonight’s game as a 4.5-point underdog. The conventional wisdom in a game like this one is to say it’s going to be a close one that will come down to a few key plays in the end. My gut on the game says the opposite: It will be a blowout–or at least a fairly comfortable win–one way or the other.
If MSU comes out forcing Memphis to take perimeter shots and the Tigers don’t knock down their 3-pointers, MSU could build confidence and a healthy lead. If they don’t take care of the ball against Memphis’ pressure, though, things could spiral out of control quickly.
I think Lucas may be the key player for us. He’s the one guy who clearly has the talent to beat the Tigers one-on-one, particularly in transition, but he has to make smart decisions with the ball to avoid getting beat in transition going the other way. It’s a big burden to put on a true freshman, but he’s shown a willingness to shoulder the load for this team.
Anyway, I’m glad this game is finally upon us. It’s a great opportunity for the Spartans to make another statement on the national stage.
Everybody all together now:
On the banks of the Red Cedar,
There’s a school that’s known to all;
Its specialty is winning,
And those Spartans play good ball . . .