Michigan St Spartans
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Location: East Lansing, MI
Last time out: Beat Notre Dame
Typical Rotation Depth: 9-10
Line: Michigan St by 19.5
Good Lord Izzo is running a stifling defense including a ridiculous 35.3% allowed on 2pt shots. Their also rebounding the few shots that they miss. On the flip side it appears that Sparty just maybe can be exploited for some points off of turnovers. Their big men are a little foul prone if you can keep from getting swatted.
Tempo: Middle of the road
Style: Man-to-Man defense, high assist motion offense, not a lot of 3s.
Fun fact: The B1G moved two games up to early December because of moving the conference championships up to play in NYC because $$$. With the league moving from 18 to 20 league games, this 2 games in December should become a permanent thing.
Player to watch: Jaren Jackson
The starting lineup for Michigan St consists of 4 sophomore stars including future first round draft pick Miles Bridges. The other starter is 6'11" Jaren Jackson who probably will be tasked with covering Issac Copeland. IC typically doesn't have to deal with someone so tall and mobile. How will he handle it? Jackson leads the team in rebounds.
Injuries: Isaiah Roby: ankle (questionable), Kenny Goins: knee (questionable)
It seems like both players will probably play as Goins finally played vs Notre Dame and Roby practiced this week. Goins isn't nearly as vital as Roby for their respective teams.
The Skinny: The start of B1G play has Nebraska facing a Michigan St team that blew Notre Dame out of the water and completely stifled North Carolina in their last two games. Izzo teams tend to take a while to come together; what is the consensus pick to win the B1G going to look like when they really put it together? The level of interior defense from Michigan St right now is remarkable as they're allowing just 35.1% shooting from 2. With the length of this team and the elite level of shot blocking in the interior, points in the paint are going to be hard to come by. The Huskers shouldn't give up on attacking the rim but I think we'll see a lot of mid-range and 3pt shots today. Are they going to fall? Could be brutal. Regardless Nebraska needs to keep the ball moving as hero ball isn't going to work against these guys. Will James Palmer adjust his game? He hasn't had much success with his hanging drives vs elite shot blockers.
Offensively Sparty just has so many weapons. Winston and Langford are lighting it up from outside, Ward is such a load in the post, and Bridges is nearly unstoppable from anywhere though it would help if we turned him into a jump shooter. Any sort of zone seems like a recipe for disaster as MSU is such a good passing team and it weakens our already shaky ability to rebound. Nebraska will try to turn Michigan St into a 3pt shooting team (and they can win doing that) but the interior is still pretty shaky so expect lots of rolls for dunks, especially anytime Jordy needs to come out.
The stark reality here is that you're asking for a Husker team facing a gauntlet to have it all together in order to have a chance to take down this Michigan State team on the road. We've seen it happen and there is the potential for a letdown here for Sparty after facing much more hyped opponents. It's nice to think about these things but this Spartan team is really good. At this point I'd settle for Nebraska to look like they belong on the same court as it's something they haven't shown yet this year.
Prediction: Michigan St 83 - Nebraska 62