|WHAT||#5 Michigan (26-4) vs
#4 Michigan State (24-6)
East Lansing, MI
|WHEN||8 PM Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan State –4, 67% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan State –2.2, 59% to win (Torvik)
Maaaaaan, really need this game right here. Not only is it for a regular season title but if this is what a road loss to Indiana does…
Tom Izzo had some thoughts after Michigan State's loss to Indiana. pic.twitter.com/WDPSJonTYp
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 2, 2019
…the post-game presser in the event of a Michigan win would be must-see TV.
Michigan recovered from the previous loss to post wins over Nebraska and at Maryland. In those games Zavier Simpson was lethally effective and Jordan Poole was much improved. If those trends continue this game might look a lot different than the first one.
THE LINEUP CARD
Click for big.
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||0||Cassius Winston||Jr.||6'1, 185||89||29||123||No|
|Egads, a bonafide PG. #3 assist rate nationally, shooting 51/42, big usage. Defense better this year.|
|G||34||Matt McQuaid||Sr.||6'5, 200||85||14||126||No|
|3&D McPoyle shooting absurd 39/44 split, allergic to rim. Does mostly deserve D rep, somehow.|
|F||21||Aaron Henry||Fr.||6'6, 210||48||15||102||Yes|
|Composite #141 FR mostly a dunk on assists guy. 25 TO rate when he tries to create. Very occasionally shoots a 3.|
|F||35||Kenny Goins||Sr.||6'6 230||73||15||112||No|
|Gritty grittenstein has added
|C||22||Xavier Tillman||So.||6'8, 245||80*||20||121||Yes|
|Excellent utility guy shooting 65% in B10, rebound magnet, top 100 block rate, gets some steals, 71% at line. Very dependent on assists, 4.9 fouls per 40.|
|G||23||Foster Loyer||Fr.||4'11 170||13||19||101||Yes|
|Gnome gets about 4 MPG. 4/18 from three on season. 27 assist rate, 30 TO rate.|
|F||1||Kyle Ahrens||Jr.||6'6, 210||45||13||114||Meh|
|Low usage Not Just A Shooter hitting 63/30 from the floor. Injury Q.|
|F||2||Gabe Brown||Fr.||6'7, 210||15||12||129||No|
|Composite #101 FR is Just A Shooter hitting 34% from deep.|
|C||15||Thomas Kithier||Fr.*||6'8, 225||30||12||144||Yes|
|Deep bench backup unearthed when Ward went out. 20/25 on season, 11% usage.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Like the Maryland game, this rematch comes so quickly on the heels of the previous game that there's been little change in the state of the opponent. Nick Ward is a "million to one" to play, FWIW. Sixth man Kyle Ahrens missed MSU's Tuesday game against Nebraska and but is probably going to give it a go. Josh Langford remains out for the year. The chart above stays as it was for the first game.
Brief personnel notes building on the first preview:
- I reiterate: Xavier Tillman is better than Nick Ward. Once you take out tomato cans this is what Ward on/Tillman off looks like for MSU:
- Look at that two point percentage on offense! There's some three point luck on D but I don't think that's entirely a coincidence. See: Wagner, Mo.
- This doesn't mean MSU is better without Ward because they have to put Kithier out there for 10 MPG… but Kithier is ~+0.04 in efficiency when he's on the court relative to non-Kithier lineups. So maybe they're better without Ward.
- Kenny Goins is 3/9, 4/7, and 6/9 from three in his last three games—the first against Michigan. It's like he has a Former Walk-on Invisibility Cape. The only guy you can leave open from three is whoever the SF is. Aaron Henry is 8/25 on the year and Kyle Ahrens is under 30%.
- Winston from three over the same span: 1/7. From two: 18/27. Assists: 29. TOs: 9. You cannot shut him off by taking away his threes.
In lieu of more reiteration,
ABOUT LAST TIME
Michigan largely shut off MSU's transition game, limited MSU to 25% from three, scored 1.13 PPP… and lost because MSU shot 68% from two. Winston repeatedly exploited gaps in Michigan's pick and roll coverage, extending to the sideline to keep Teske in his face and then hitting the roller once the guy tagging him had his internal "recover to shooter" timer go off.
The results: 94% shooting at the rim with a third of MSU's shots coming there. The rate at which Michigan gave up shots at the rim wasn't much different than their season average (35%). The fact that they were half uncontested dunks was different. Michigan is top 100 at preventing those shots from going down, holding opponents to 58%.
That and an anomalous MSU turnover performance (six TOs, about half their season average) combined with Jordan Poole struggling to see Michigan put up its worst defensive performance of the season by some distance.
On the other side of the ball, MSU started with two screen approaches. The first was going under everything, which was a specific Zavier Simpson tactic that didn't work very well when applied to other Michigan players…
…and led to a 5/11 first half from three for Michigan.
The other was switching them. In the first half, eh, not so much.
In the second Michigan did not find Teske under the basket when this happened and the mobility of Tillman made it relatively difficult to drive him; Poole settled for step-back threes that did not go down. Michigan had just 6 assists for the game. The subsequent Nebraska game saw more switching; this time Michigan had drilled the dump-down sufficiently to get Jordan Poole five assists.
Michigan still performed decently well on offense because they hit a bunch of free throws and had 12 OREBs; they were 7/26 from three for the game, falling off after the good start.
- MSU is 70th in average possession length but this really understates their tempo. MSU is sixth nationally in the number of shots that go up in the first ten seconds of the clock.
- They're good inside the line and out and 14th in eFG%, first in the league inside the line.
- They remain pretty pretty bad at TOs, sitting exactly 200th.
- They're 20th in OREBs, first in B10 play.
- They're #1 nationally in assist rate.
- They are again outstanding in eFG%. A team with two 6'8 guys at center is second nationally in 2PT% D because they're top 20 in block rate. Both of these hold up in league play. Flat out bizarre.
- Like Maryland they're horrible at forcing TOs, 326th.
- They're 11th in DREBs, which is also bizarre given their OREB rate. They do try to block a ton of shots, I guess.
- They give up a reasonable number of threes but in league play opponents are hitting just 29%. That's probably luck.
Oblig transition mention. Michigan seems to have this mostly down. MSU got one bucket on a push after a Michigan make; otherwise their transition was off steals and the occasional long rebound. It's something to keep an eye on but mostly in case Michigan has some regression. They probably won't.
Poole sanity check. Poole can get work done against this MSU team. When not chucking bad threes he had 9 points on 7 shot attempts, two assists, and a TO. He was able to bust past Ahrens and Winston semi-regularly. The issue with the jacked-up threes seems to have been addressed over the last two games.
So too has Poole's defense, which has never been Matthews-quality but has generally been good enough to lock down guys like Gabe Kalscheur and his ilk. Here he missed boxouts, closed out poorly, fouled absurdly, and generally looked like a bad facsimile of himself. A response is critical for Michigan's chances.
Pick and roll coverage. Very bad in the last game after being superb for pretty much the whole season before that. It's a timing and rhythm thing; Winston will no doubt get Michigan sometimes but they have to shut off the parade of bunnies at the rim.
If Matthews is available and full go I wonder if Michigan will do what they didn't in the first game: put him on Winston and live with Simpson on McQuaid and Poole on Aaron Henry. Matthews's extra length might be able to bother Winston's array of seemingly unerring floaters, and Simpson's less likely to get lost chasing McQuaid around.
Pick and roll attacking. Going under induced 7 threes from Simpson on which he got six points, which they'll probably live with; Michigan got it back by using that tactic to get Livers and Brazdeikis some open looks. Meanwhile: a switch on Teske has to end up with the ball in Michigan's most efficient offensive player's hands.
Related: Simpson had just two assists in the previous game, among six total. Michigan's offensive structure didn't work out.
Castleton? 11 minutes of Thomas Kithier in the last game and just two for Brandon Johns, who gave up a couple of buckets to Winston in that brief time. Livers got the other minutes at the 5. If Castleton can work the PNR like he has in the last two games against Kithier that would be a boost.
As always, fouls. Both teams have virtually irreplaceable players at C and PG. An extended autobench situation would be very bad who whoever it befalls.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan State by 4.