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Friday Morning Links

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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?

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