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|WHAT||Michigan (18-7, 10-3 B1G) vs. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3)|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -4 (KenPom)|
|TV||CBS (PBP: Verne Lundquist; Analyst: Bill Raftery)|
Right: "Hey, Tom, how many healthy players do you have at any given moment?" [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Are huge, obviously. Michigan is a half-game behind MSU in the Big Ten standings. A win gives the Wolverines the conference lead with a favorable schedule over their final four regular-season games. A loss means Michigan would require some help to win the conference. A look at the remaining schedules of the two teams gives hope for this.
Michigan: @Purdue, Minnesota, @Illinois, Indiana
MSU: Illinois, Iowa, @Ohio State
Iowa is also firmly in the picture, just one game back in the loss column, though they still have six games remaining as a result of Assembly Hall's disassembly.
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||20||Travis Trice||Jr.||6'0, 170||50.2||16.9||Not at all|
|Starter due to Appling's wrist, excellent outside shooter, poor inside finisher|
|G||14||Gary Harris||So.||6'4, 210||72.0||26.5||No|
|High usage and high efficiency, great defender, should match up w/ Stauskas|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||So.||6'5, 225||71.5||19.0||Kinda|
|Point forward type, solid rebounder, prone to facepalm-inducing mistakes|
|F||10||Matt Costello||So.||6'9, 240||37.1||13.1||Very|
|Most minutes among four-headed rotation w/ Dawson out, good interior D|
|F||5||Adreian Payne||Sr.||6'10, 245||51.7||25.9||Not at all|
|Very effective near basket or outside, decent rebounder and shot-blocker|
|G||11||Keith Appling||Sr.||6'1, 185||70.7||23.4||Kinda|
|Played 19+ mins in each of last two games, but only took 3 combined shots|
|F||30||Kenny Kaminski||Fr.||6'8, 225||25.8||15.2||Not at all|
|Pure stretch four gunner, great shooting numbers, tiny rebounding rates|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||Fr.||6'4, 195||20.6||15.5||No|
|Role diminishing quickly with Appling back on the floor|
Starting power forward Branden Dawson was scheduled to have the pins removed from his broken hand Thursday night or Friday morning; he's also apparently dealing with the flu. Izzo won't rule him out of the game, though even if he plays it'll likely be in a limited role with a heavily taped hand. If he can't go, foulers par excellence Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna will pick up minutes in the frontcourt.
As your Spartan friend is sure to remind you, Michigan will face Adreian Payne for the first time this season. The MSU big man has come back like gangbusters from his nagging foot injury, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds in the five games since his return. His post-up ability and 44% three-point shooting provide a major matchup issue for a U-M squad that couldn't handle Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky.
Assuming Dawson can't give it a go, four other big men will see time up front for the Spartans. Matt Costello is the presumed starter at the four; he's hitting 63.6% of his shots, all two-pointers, while providing solid offensive rebound and excellent shot-blocking. Kenny Kaminsky gets out there just to shoot threes, but he's darn good at it, knocking them down at a 47.6% clip. Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna foul people a lot while playing marginally effective basketball otherwise.
In the backcourt, Keith Appling is back from a wrist injury that supposedly threatened his regular season as of a week ago. He's been distributing the ball well in the two games since his return; however, he doesn't look comfortable shooting just yet, attempting just three combined field goals over those two games. Appling should split minutes pretty evenly with Travis Trice, an outside shooting upgrade who's not the same quality passer or defender as Appling.
Appling's limitations and the absence of Dawson have put more pressure on Denzel Valentine to be a distributor and rebounder; he's done well with the latter and has mixed results on the former thanks to some questionable decision-making. While he's the least threatening shooter on the floor, he's solid in transition and provides good size and versatility.
Gary Harris is Gary Harris. This means lots of points, probably in an efficient manner, and excellent defense on Nik Stauskas. Harris had been mired in an outside shooting slump before hitting 6/9 threes against Purdue on Thursday.
MSU has alternated wins and losses since they last played U-M. Wins came over Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Purdue. Losses came against Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. If the pattern holds, Michigan is in line for a win.
MSU is now second in the Big Ten in eFG% behind Michigan after bombarding Purdue; they also rank second in 3P% while taking the fourth-highest percentage of the field goals from beyond the arc. Yes, a Michigan State team could be called perimeter-oriented. It's a weird year.
The Spartan defense is giving up lots of three-point attempts themselves and seeing a solid chunk (35.3%) of those go in. What separates them from Michigan, though, is impressive defense inside the arc, ranking first in the league in both 2P% against and block rate. They are very foul prone, though striking a balance between attacking their bigs and generating two-point looks that don't rely on bailout calls can be difficult.
Keep track of Payne. Should be self-explanatory. If Michigan lets Payne spot up or slice through the defense like Frank Kaminsky, it'll be a long afternoon. Jordan Morgan has to do a better job of keeping track of his man out on the perimeter; losing Payne beyond the arc is likely to result in three points, as Purdue found out OVER and OVER and OVER again on Thursday.
Keep the rebounding close. Michigan managed to win the rebounding battle in the first matchup, which never happens in this rivalry. Even with Dawson likely sidelined, it's unreasonable to expect a repeat, but keeping this close is still a big key to winning. This is all about getting help on the boards from the perimeter players—Caris LeVert's eight defensive rebounds at Breslin made a huge difference.
Find an offense with LeVert. Gary Harris did an excellent job guarding Nik Stauskas in the first game despite Stauskas's eventual 19 points; that took 5/6 shooting from three on looks that weren't easy, as he was limited to 2/6 on two-pointers with no free-throw attempts. If Michigan can't free up Stauskas off the ball, they have to figure out a way to run an offense through Caris LeVert that isn't just LeVert weaving his way towards the basket. Either that or Derrick Walton needs to come up big once again.
Michigan by 4
A number of role players have gotten some quality playing time with all of Michigan State’s injuries, who is one player that will make a difference either on Sunday or in March?
Kenny Kaminski has been the biggest revelation as the season has gone on. He’s played 15 to 25 minutes per game since Payne and then Dawson went down with injuries. And he keeps knocking it down from deep; he’s still at 48% on three-pointers for the season. He’s also started grabbing a few offensive boards and scoring a bit in the lane. Overall, he’s still a pretty one-dimensional player, but it’s a dimension that can be a major factor in games. With Payne back, Tom Izzo can now put a lineup out there where all five players are threats to shoot the three.
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Win the Game!
Canada got wins men's and women's hockey. Hopefully this points to our favorite Canadian Stauskas having a huge game.
If we try and finesse our way to a win here, we will get throttled. This win will take some dirtying of the hands. Hopefully Belein will have these guys ready to battle...unlike last Sunday. We need this one big time.
but it would be so much better to win it with two victories over Sparty.
I wouldnt count on that. The winner of this game will win the B1G
Sorry I don't see it. After how we played at home vs. Wisconsin, State comes in tomorrow and wins. They'll have Harris clamp down on Stauskas, and Lavert won't be able to muster enough offense with the help of the freshmen. GR3 is a massive disappointment, but the biggest disappointment was losing McGary for the season. Only way we win this game is if GR3 has the best game of the season by two orders of magnitude.
I will love nothing more than being 100% wrong.
They have a tougher team and are getting healthier. Payne is a Goblin that will likely have a field day on us. McGary being out still is just brutal. We need him point blank. Michigan will have to play like their heads are on fire and Morgan and Horford need to absolutely bring it. Belein needs to coach with fire and not sit on his hands and allow 14-2 starts.... I think Levert and Irvin are the wild card. Spike also. We need those 3 to play B1G. If stauskas and GR3 play well in addition to our wild card players we might be able to out gun them. Hopefully we play with a chip on our shoulder!
I view us as an underdog also, but not because of the last game. I mean, before the Wisconsin game, if you had pointed to the prior game, you'd have thought we'd win. A lot of people fall victim to the "what just happened will always happen" trap, but looking at only the last game is a bit much.
Without McGary we lack muscle and toughness. GR3 has been a ghost this season. Stauskas is not user athletic enough to dominate good to great on ball defense. With no post presence to defer to that leaves us with Levert...Irvin and Co. On the outside perimeter. If we do not shoot lights out we are in trouble against a team like Staee. They are gritty and strong in the middle. Costello is a good player and their other bigs rotate and fill roles nicely. We have a very skilled finesse team and it will be a grand challenge for us. This is a game where our "grit" guys...Walton...Irvin...Spike...Levert...Horford need to step up B1G. Hopefully we can get GR3 going and free up Stauskas a bit. I just worry that Staee will want this game more and if the refs allow a street fight to take place....that favors a stronger MSU team in my opinion.
I would really like to see this team play with tremendous fire and take the fight to MSU. MSU is going to try and bully us from the jump. We need to mix it up with them and strap those proverbial gloves on if need be. This is a big statement game for us and one that we need for our program. 6 of 8 and a season sweep will resonate in recruiting and bolster our seeding come march....let alone catapult us to at least a share of another B1G title.
If I were Belein...which I'm no where near his coaching acumen. ...I would bullet the following itinerary:
1. Go at Keith Appling on both sides of the ball.
2. Face guard Harris and make him put the ball on the floor...like what they're going to do to Nik.
3. Do not settle for 3s early...force paint contact and try and saddle Payne with quickfouls.
4. Get Nik involved early at the top of the key. Playing GR3 at the 4 will enable pick and pop opportunities and should pay dividends.
5. Challenge Walton to win his matchup at the point.
6. Allow Levert to operate in space early and develop rythym.
7. Put major focus on loose balls and boxing out.
8. DO NOT ALLOW A SLOW START. IF ITS 6-0...CALL A FRIGGING TO.
Or they'll shoot like they do every so often and Payne will pick up two early fouls. Izzo will cackle like a sweaty fool while the universe dissolves around him only to reform as a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor.
Break out the broomsticks!!
Not until we beat them again in the B1G tourney.
State will slap the floor a bunch, causing (or aggravting) injuries. Izzo will blame that on the court itself.
Payne will continue to bother me by being a really good player toward whom I can't find a reason to reasonate hate.
The game will be close, but Walton will channel his inner Burke and the team will play the aggressive style needed not just to win, but force the issue with fouls.
All of State's "but we're injured" players will be gone next year, leaving MSU with the weakest team they've had in many years. Izzo's ego might even get the best of him as he considers leaving to coach the Pistons...so that I might care even less about them.
shoot better and play better D. After the WI game loss at home I'm a bit less confident in a a win but may be for some reason the team was not up for WI and fell behind to quick! It would be a nice home victory!
I am happy that Sparty had a record-tying three point performance earlier this week, because games like that are usually followed by games where nothing wants to go in. We may see them go 4-6 for 32 instead of 17 for 32.
It will be the dogfight that it always is, but I think a lot of intangibles are lining up for the Wolverines right now. I am betting the Maize and Blue come out with a lot more first half intensity than we have seen lately. If Sparty is tight while Michigan is intense, it could be a very entertaining first half for the home crowd.
Given our horrendous starts in 4 of the last 5 games (Nebraska game is the only one we haven't come out flat and fallen behind quickly in) I think the first few minutes of the game will be both critical and telling.
scared to look.
Don't have a great feeling about this one.
the Question: can we pull through?
Breathe & focus.