Michigan St Spartans
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Location: East Lansing, MI
Line: Michigan St by 11
Typical Rotation Depth: 10+
KenPom rank: 63
A couple of key takeaways here is that Nebraska should have its full roster (minus Arop) for the first time this year. Also Doc Sadler and Bobby Lutz will be coaching from home as the team looks to minimize their exposure to covid. Hoiberg notes that minimizing turnovers, rebounds, and taking away Michigan St's transition are the keys for Nebraska to come out on top.
Players to watch: Rocket Watts
Replacing Cassius Winston is no small task and combo guard Rocket Watts is struggling in a sense to do so. He's certainly distributing the ball like everyone else on an Izzo team but he's taking the majority of the shots when he's on the court and not hitting. For a team like Nebraska that has struggled defending dominant PGs, making Watts try to beat you seems like a good strategy.
Players to watch: Joey Hauser
Had to sit out a year after transferring from Marquette but the sophomore center is today's big man, capable of posting up in the paint and shooting at a high percentage from 3 while having a nose from rebounding.
Michigan St might have a similar problem to Nebraska in terms of not quite having a traditional take-charge PG. Rocket Watts is more of a combo guard and nobody is Cassius Winston. Izzo plays a lot of dudes.
- Joshua Langford can still shoot but he's not quite the player he was prior to two years worth of injuries
- Slasher Aaron Henry has also struggled with his shot this year
- Kithier is your classic 'why is Izzo starting this guy' if you just look at box scores. Kithier is your classic sized Izzo post player who grabs rebounds and is a glue guy.
- Foster Loyer is your 6'0" PG who shoots 3s
- 6'7" Jr Gabe Brown is a 3 way scorer coming off the bench
Michigan St seemed to find their footing after a 'get right' game to start 2021 vs Nebraska. However, Sparty got hit with covid and after coming back has looked like a bottom tier B1G team. Their first game back, a 67-37 loss to Rutgers, makes one wonder how out of sorts Nebraska will look in their first game action in 27 days. Prior to the program being shutdown for covid, the Huskers were playing like the worst team in the conference. It's hard to imagine them having the legs to push pace and play with the sort of effort they need on defense to be successful. Michigan St has struggled to shoot this year so Nebraska maybe gets lucky and finds themselves in a brickfest. The likely outcome though is Sparty breaks a 4 game skid, once again getting right by playing Nebraska.
Prediction: Michigan St 79 - Nebraska 57