7:00, Wednesday. Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Indiana. No TV coverage.
This game was scheduled in Fort Wayne as a favor by Tom Izzo to former IU player and now-IPFW head coach Dane Fife. MSU has played and beaten IPFW in East Lansing in each of the last three seasons. Last season, the Spartans won 79-57. Drew Neitzel led the way with 18 points, and Marquise Gray chipped in 15 points and 4 rebounds.
Given that (1) very few Spartan fans are going to see this game and (2) I won’t be listening to the radio broadcast, instead choosing to brave the elements to attend the big Central Michigan-Ball State MAC showdown in Mount Pleasant tonight, I’m going to skimp a bit on the game preview. Bullets:
- IPFW had an overall record of 12-17 last season, with a 9-9 mark in Summit League play.
- The Mastadons scored 0.98 points/possession and allowed their opponents to score 1.05 points/possession.
- On offense, the team’s weakness was an inability to rebound the ball. They finished 3rd from last in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at just 21.1%.
- On defense, the weak point was a failure to create turnovers. Opponents turned the ball over on only 18.5% of possessions.
- The team returns only one of its top six players from last season in terms of playing time (the other five were all seniors): sophomore guard Ben Botts. Botts averaged 10.0 points/game last season, shooting .453 from 3-point range and .804 from the free throw line.
- IPFW has two new transfers who are now in the playing rotation: Deilvez Yearby (Kansas State) and Aaron Richie (Central Michigan). (From the MSU game notes.)
- IPFW opened the season with a 71-43 loss to Xavier. The team obviously struggled to score, making only 15 of 60 FG attempts (25.0%). Freshman forward Trey McCorkle was the only Mastadon player to hit double digits, scoring 10 points on 4-5 FG shooting.
The (very) early Sagarin ratings like MSU by 12 in this one. That’s a relatively slim projected margin for this sort of nonconference tune-up, partly because of the home/away factor and partly because the Sagarin ratings don’t recognize the turnover in the Mastadons’ roster yet.
Hopefully, the road environment gets our guys’ competitive instincts in gear, as thing pick up very quickly after this one: Three games against quality opponents in the Old Spice Classic next weekend and a date with the mighty Tarheels in Detroit after that.