6:00 Saturday. The Breslin Center. Big Ten Network.
Three-word game preview: Cupcake city . . . baby.
The Alcorn State basketball team is simply bad. Both Kenpom and Sagarin rated the team as being among the 10 worst Division 1 teams in the country last year, when they went 7-24 (6-12 in the SWAC), and both rating systems have them right back at the bottom of the barrel this season. The Braves come in with a 2-6 record, but the two wins are both against NAIA teams (William Carey and something called a “Tougaloo”).
As far as I can tell, Alcorn State hasn’t won a nonconference game against a Division 1 opponent since 2004. And the Southwestern Conference, by the way, was the weakest of the 32 Division 1 conferences last season, according to Sagarin.
So I’m going to go light on the statistical preview. Three bullets:
- The only thing resembling a strength on Alcorn State’s tempo-free profile is hanging on to the ball. They’ve turned it over on only 18.2% of possessions to date.
- They play at a very high tempo: 77.0 possessions/game. Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious must be drooling.
- 6’3″ junior guard Troy Jackson leads the Braves in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals per game. His 21.9 points/game are the product of a ton of shots, though, as his shooting numbers are just .440/.286/.736 (2pt%/3pt%/FT%).
(Note: One sign that your basketball program is in a state of disrepair is a failure to update the statistics page on your own website for three seasons.)
Sagarin says we should win this one by 31.5. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
In lieu of a longer statistical breakdown, here are some fun facts about Alcorn State:
- Alcorn State was the nation’s first state-supported higher education institution for African American students. The university is located near Lorman, Mississippi.
- Many sports fans may recall that Alcorn State is the alma mater of Steve McNair, but did you know that Donald Driver also played his college ball there?
- Michael Duncan Clarke (The Green Mile, Armageddon, The Whole Nine Yards) is also a notable alumnus.
- Head coach Larry Smith is in his first season with the Braves. Smith starred as a player for Alcorn State in the late 1970s, leading all of Division 1 basketball in rebounding as a senior. He went on to a 13-year career in the NBA, primarily with Golden State, during which he averaged 9.2 rebounds/game.
Turning back to our own team, I assume it’s a good thing when Tom Izzo is saying things like this:
“Surprise, surprise,” Izzo said. “That’s three good days of practice in a row. It has been a long time since I’ve been able to say that. It didn’t happen once last year.”
Also, the term “jaw-dropping dunk” being used in the same headline as Delvon Roe’s name has to be a good thing. Reportedly, he could shed his knee brace as soon as this Saturday.
If ever the stars were aligned for a major blowout at the Breslin Center, this would appear to be the game. Discussion question: What’s the over/under on how many minutes will be remaining when Mike Keber gets into the game?