Preview: Michigan State

Submitted by Tim on January 26th, 2010 at 4:31 PM

The Essentialsmsulogo.jpg

WHAT Michigan v. Michigan State
WHERE Ann Arbor, MI

January 26th, 2010
THE LINE Michigan +4.5*
TELEVISION ESPN (O'Brien, Lavin, Andrews)

*Line provided by online sports betting site


Though Ohio State always has and always will be Michigan's #1 football rival, that isn't the case for the hoops team. It's the in-state Spartans that are the A-1 priority for just about every sport that doesn't take place on the gridiron. I guess that's what makes the Wolverines' futility against Michigan State hurt more than it seems like it should. It's no 0-6 record the last six time against the Buckeyes in football, but losing 16 of the last 19 to MSU on the basketball court isn't a stroll through the roses either. I guess it's appropriate that in the Free Press's photo gallery from the last 24 games, even the most recent Michigan win is represented by a picture that makes their efforts look futile against the Green and White Machine (H/T UMHoops):


So tonight, in front of a Maize-Out crowd that will be populated by more than few Spartan fans, the Wolverines get just their third chance to knock off MSU in the John Beilein era. Michigan is struggling through an all-too-familiar disappointing season, while Michigan State chugs along on their annual track to a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

With Manny back in the fold after his suspension and Kelvin Grady re-joining the scout team to simulate Kalin Lucas in practice (for all of 35 minutes yesterday) team chemistry may be iffy. This is compounded the leadership void all year. It's tough to say what to expect from this Michigan team, though DeShawn Sims said Manny will give one of the best performances of his career. Harris has responded to previous benchings with scoring outbursts, whether it was the Iowa overtime last year or large chunks of the Indiana game this year.

Michigan State

The Spartans are a typical Tom Izzo unit that crashes the boards and running the floor to get much of their offense. They also play stingy defense, which has led to the best efficiency margin in the Big Ten. Michigan is at #5, speaking to their improvement over the year, but still well behind MSU. The Spartans are at +15.5; Michigan is just +3.2.

The Spartans have only lost three games this season, but all have been away from home. They fell to Florida in Atlantic City and lost to North Carolina and Texas on their respective home floors. Michigan is probably as good as those teams, right?

So, yeah, Michigan State is a really tough out. They haven't lost in the Big Ten, though they've yet to play in some of the tougher conference venues (yes, I'm well aware Crisler isn't one, especially for the Spartans).

Junior guard Kalin Lucas was struggling somewhat at the beginning of the year, and even started one game off the bench, but he is back where he was last year, playing the majority of available minutes as he shoots, slashes, and dishes for MSU. 6-6 sophomore forward Draymond Green leads the Spartans in offensive rating and field goal percentage, along with defensive rebounding percentage. Senior forward Raymar Morgan, at 6-8, is MSU's other big rebounder. Senior guards Durrell Summers and Chris Allen also play more than 60% of available minutes for State, and Allen is a big downtown threat.

This is a good team of the basket-ed ball, methinks.

Tempo-Free Breakdown

If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.

Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks
Category Michigan Rank State Rank Advantage
Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG% 177 48 SS
Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG% 168 43 SS
Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%
34 212 MM
Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO% 67 187 SS
Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%
260 41 SSS
Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb% 225 9 SSS
Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR
330 23 SSS
Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR
22 164 MM
Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD 82 26 S
Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO 46 23 S

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.

These numbers are ugly for Michigan, with advantages only in holding onto the rock—something that has not been in evidence of late as the team descends into an Amakerian turnover-fest—and not sending the opponent to the foul line. For both teams, eFG% is directly correlated to efficiency on its respective side of the floor, and though Michigan's has been trending upward (along with their overall efficiency on either side of the floor - those season-long numbers may be worth exploring at a later date), Michigan State still has advantages in each of more than 100 places in the national ranks.

For Michigan to have a chance in this game, DeShawn Sims is going to have to perform like a superstar, which, thankfully, he has been doing a lot of late. The story was similar against Purdue, and even without Manny Harris, the Wolverines were able to keep it close. A hot-shooting day by any of Michigan's outside snipers could tilt the tide in favor of the maize-and-blue.

HOWEVA, Ken Pomeroy likes Michigan State by three points, Vegas likes them by four-and-a-half, and I think those numbers are even a little too kind to Michigan. I guess that may be attributable to the Wolverines' basketball team becoming a much better version of the John L. Smith football teams: any individual game can end with a wild swing one way or another, but at the end of the year, you have a good idea what the final record is going to be. Sure, it isn't 5-7 for this hoops squad (they'll probably sneak into the NIT), but it would take one of the surprising upsets of the year to knock of Michigan State. Come in, wear maize, be loud, and hope for the best.


The Only Colors previews the game, and KJ does more hoping for than predicting an MSU win. Official site release on Manny's return to the team. The Big Ten Geeks study how Michigan State ripped Minnesota's heart out. Story behind that awful new logo can be found hyah. Dylan previews at UMHoops.



January 26th, 2010 at 5:04 PM ^

Ugh. I always thought that 1-2 in this 3-game stretch would be a nice run for the Wolverines, but that figured in a win against Purdue or Wiscy. Right now, MSU isn't as dominant as they were last year, but they certainly are good enough to beat UM even at less-than-optimal output. I'm hoping for a miracle, but this is feeling more and more like a lost season.


January 26th, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

"The story was similar against Purdue, and even without Manny Harris, the Wolverines were able to keep it close."

hey Brian, did you miss the point in the second half when Michigan was down 20+ pts to Purdue? Or do you consider staying within 30 pts of an opponent 'keeping it close'?


January 26th, 2010 at 6:35 PM ^

I have to believe it's to induce the hopefuls into parting with their money. If we keep the margin of defeat to 10 or less I'll be surprised.