Noon Sunday. The Breslin Center. CBS.
I hope this won’t be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm about Sunday’s game, but I’m going to have to phone this game preview in due to birthday-related festivities for the Official Oldest Son of the Spartans Weblog that commenced earlier this evening and will extent into tomorrow evening. Here’s what I’ve got to offer:
|MSU Off||Rk||Pur Def||Rk|
|Pur Off||Rk||MSU Def||Rk|
Remarkably, we’re now a (slightly) better defensive team that Purdue in conference play. Both Michigan and Northwestern scored at roughly a 1.20 points-per-possession clip in their wins against the Boilermakers over the last two weeks.
Stealing a Prescription from a Previous Game Preview
Of course, our offense is nothing like Michigan or Northwestern’s. I’m going to say the same thing I did prior to the more recent game against Illinois:
And the key to playing efficiently on offense? Turnovers, of course. I’ve recently posited that MSU’s turnover issues are now limited to playing teams with aggressive man-to-man defenses. And Illinois is one of those teams. In the first match-up, Illinois forced us to give the ball up 18 times in 66 possessions (27.3%), as the three point guards turned it over a combined 9 times against the ball-hawking defense of Chester Frazier et al. [Numbers for the first Purdue match-up: 22 turnovers in 70 possessions. Replace “Chester Frazier” with “Chris Kramer.”]
I’ve argued in the past that you have to make a team that applies a full court press pay by beating the press for easy baskets. Otherwise, there’s no reason for the opponent not to press you. The same concept applies to aggressive man-to-man defense. The defensive pressure is going to disrupt MSU’s set plays. They have to compensate by creating some easy baskets, either by dribbling past/around pressure or passing the ball to cutting players. Otherwise, there’s no reason for Illinois not to extend their defense.
Reasons to be Wary About This Game
- Purdue is the only Big Ten team to completely outclass us in a game this year.
- E’Twaun Moore has finally found his scoring touch: 69 points on 11-26 3-point shooting over the last 4 games.
Reasons to be Optimistic About This Game
- We didn’t have a full-strength Raymar Morgan the last time. He’ll create a serious mismatch for us on offense.
- You have to believe Travis Walton and Goran Suton will have something to say about how this game goes down on Senior Day.
Kenpom predicts a 68-64 MSU in a 67-possession game. A win would be the icing on the conference season, giving us at least one win against every other team in the league, and keeping us in the conversation for a #1 seed in the Big Dance. What do you, the Spartans Weblog faithful, see as the keys going into this game?