Monday, December 17, 2012

Go Green....Go White....Spartan Preview

And so the moment has arrived.  Tomorrow, the Michigan State Spartans will become the first Big 10 men's basketball team to make its way onto the floor of the Stroh Center.  BG has been putting a huge amount of effort into promoting the game, and let's hope that there is a good crowd there.

The Spartans are 19th in the AP poll with an RPI of 53.  They are 18th in the rankings.  The Spartans are 9-2 this season, and while they lost to UConn in Germany, they have beaten Kansas and Boise as well as some other teams with RPI in the 200s.  Their other loss was @Miami in their only true road game of the season to date.

The quality of the program cannot be debated.  They have made 15 straight NCAA tourneys and have made 2 Final Fours in the last four years.  This is a consistent, model program in college basketball.

Their hallmark is defense.  They are allowing 59 points a game, which is 18th in Division I.  They are very good against the shot--#13 in effective field goal %--and combine that with being 22nd in preventing offensive rebounds.  That combination right there makes you very tough to beat.  They are about average in creating turnovers and free throw rate (due to their physical style) but it all adds up to .84 points per possession which is 14th in the nation.

Offensively, they are the team I wrote about when I talked about what you had to do to win if you weren't going to shoot 3s.  They are 297th in the country in the percentage of their points coming from 3.  And yet they are getting 1.07 points per possession which is in the top quarter of the country with an effective FG% of 53%, which is pretty high.

They do that by hitting 54.5% of the 2-FGs, which partly from how they play offense and partly from getting 39% of their available offensive rebounds, which is also in the top 10% of the country.

They get to the line fairly well and make more than 70% when they get there.  They are struggling a little bit with turnovers.

Their leading scorer is a guard, Keith Appling, who is scoring 15 points per game.  He's shooting 48% which is really good for a guard.  He also is leading the team with 4.3 assists per game.

Their only other double figure scorer is Branden Dawson (6'6") who is scoring 10 points per game.  (He's shooting 58%).  Adreian Payne (6'10") is getting 7.7 rebounds per game and Derrick Nix (6'9") is also averaging seven rebounds per game.  Both are in the top 5 of the Big 10 in rebounding.

For the Falcons to compete in this game, a couple things will need to happen.  First, BG will need to control the pace of the game--MSU plays at an above average D1 pace.  Second, BG has to have an unconscious night shooting, and playing the kind of defense they have played over the last 2 games, just against Michigan State.

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