Apologies for the lateness - transportation issues left me unable to publish the preview -t
||Michigan v. Michigan State
||East Lansing, MI
March 7th, 2010
||CBS (Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner)
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
The Wolverines dropped a heartbreaker in front of a Maize-Out crowd as DeShawn Sims' alley-oop layup just missed the mark at the buzzer. Kalin Lucas's icy jumper with just a couple seconds left on the clock proved to be the game-winning basket, as the Wolverines fell to their rivals by a score of 57-56.
As has been the case much of the year, Michigan's defensive and offensive execution was very good, but the open shots just weren't finding the bottom of the basket. The Wolverines managed just 38.8 eFG%, while allowing the Spartans to make a hair over 51 eFG%.
Since Last We Met
It could be said (and perhaps this is the actual case) that the Wolverines just continued being a mediocre and inconsistent team following the loss at the hands of Sparty. On the other hand, I think it's at least a little bit true that they were demoralized coming off this game, and entered a mini-tailspin, disrupting the solid improvement they had been making in conference play.
Either way, Michigan has gone 4-5 since the State loss, with all four wins coming over Iowa and Minnesota, and losses coming in winnable games against Northwestern, Penn State, and Illinois, as well as in predictable blowouts against Wisconsin and Ohio State. If DeShawn Sims's shot had been just a half inch one way, this team probably has not just one more victory at this point, but probably more like three or four. As it stands, they're playing for their NIT lives.
Sparty, on the other end of the court, has gone through a rough patch of their own (compared to their standard, of course) since knocking off the Wolverines. A 5-4 stretch in conference play has eliminated their chance of winning the regular season conference title, after an 8-0 start. They still have a chance to share the conference crown with the Buckeyes if they can beat Michigan, though Ohio State holds the tie-breaker.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Michigan is up against the numbers yet again, as they only have meaningful advantages in holding onto the ball and preventing the Spartans from doing so. Michigan State, on the other hand, has big advantages in shooting and rebounding.
If the Wolverines are to come away with the win, they'll have to use a similar gameplan to the one that knocked off Minnesota twice this season: win the turnover battle in a big way, and get hot from the field. Playing with discipline offensively will be a huge key, because mistakes are sure to snowball against a Tom Izzo team, especially one with such a talent gap over this Michigan squad.
Ken Pomeroy likes the Spartans by 8 points at home, giving them an 81% chance of getting the victory - and the tie for the Big Ten Title. Vegas thinks the Spartans should be about 10.5-point winners. Michigan has teased at times this year, but they've been just that - a tease. Michigan State probably emerges victorious by about 10 points.
UMHoops and The Only Colors post their previews.