Michigan St Spartans
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Location: East Lansing, MI
Last time out: Beat Penn State
Conference Record: 6-0
Typical Rotation Depth:
Line: Michigan St by 1
Player to watch: Cassius Winston
The Junior PG is the real deal and is one of the top assist men in the conference. Additionally he's shooting over 45% from 3 and getting to the FT line and is currently the second scoring option behind Nick Ward. Winston has been turnover prone for the last couple of games.
Player to watch: Nick Ward
At 6'9" 245 Ward is an absolute beast in the paint and the main scoring option for the Spartans while he's on the court. He blocks shots, rebounds on both ends, and gets to the FT line at a rate higher than James Palmer. Ward is a bit foul prone so he tends to play about 20 some minutes a game.
KenPom Helps to break down the lineup
The biggest issue for Michigan St is Josh Langford (starting SF) and most likely Kyle Ahrens (backup SF) are out for this game. That means you're guarding James Palmer or someone else with your 3rd string SF.
- Matt McQuaid is the team's sharpshooter but relies on Winston to set him up for a shot
- Kenny Goins is a prolific rebounder that will score garbage points if left unchecked. Expect the Huskers to double onto Ward which will leave Goins open for shots if he can make them
- Henry is a rotational player but isn't a super aggressive shot taker. He also fouls at Roby-esque rate which makes him a sub-optimal choice for how Michigan St will cover Palmer
- 6'8" 245# Xavier Tillman is Ward's backup that essentially does everything Ward does minus the aggression. Expect the Spartans to make an effort to feed him more against this smaller Nebraska front court
- 6'0" Fr Foster Loyer is the backup PG and has been turnover prone in limited action
- 6'7" Gabe Brown put in 21 minutes vs Penn St with Ahrens injured and was just sort of out there offensively. In theory will spend half of this game guarding James Palmer
- 6'8" Thomas Keithier and 6'11" Marcus Bingham are 4 star MSU recruits who have basically played garbage minutes. Worth mentioning that players Nebraska might not scout can give them problems just in case
Scouting MSU thread
This isn't a game that Nebraska needs to win to make the tourney or even win a game; Nebraska can accomplish either goal regardless of the outcome of this game. This game takes on a different sort of importance. This is the sort of game that is a measuring stick for a program that feels like it has one of the best teams in the nation and DESPERATELY wants to prove it against a team considered to be one the best. This is the type of game that you win and look back twenty years and say "oh yeah that team"
Defensively this is one of the elite squads in the nation as Izzo has held all but 5 teams under a point per possession this season. The Spartan's non-aggressive pack based D is all about taking away driving lanes and their top notch speed/length takes limits 3pt shots. 2nd chance points will be at premium vs this elite rebounding squad. Can Roby/Copeland take advantage from the outside? How much can Palmer hurt their backups? Is Big Game Tom Allen going to live up to that billing? How many points can Nebraska generate off of those MSU turnovers?
On offense the Spartans will attempt to attack in the paint all night by working the ball into Ward. If the Huskers double team how quickly can they scramble? How much of Cassius Winston can Watson take away? Will the Huskers try and take away Winston/Ward or make those two beat them? Most likely you'll see some 1-3-1 tonight but will it work at all against such a high level passing team?
It's probable that this will be a physical game that comes down to FTs and one can only hope that doesn't hurt Nebraska.
This should be a loud crowd that will give the Nebraska defense the juice it needs. Let's try and make some history.
Prediction: Nebraska 79 - Michigan St 76