THE JACK BRESLIN STUDENT EVENTS CENTER -- EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012, 1:00 PM EST
ONLINE RADIO FEED: Spartan Sports Network
First things first -- this is the preview/game thread. Same rules as always: No slurs, no links to illegal game threads, and be cool to one another.
The question -- how does one properly preview a rematch of a game that happened less than three weeks ago? There are a few steps:
STEP 1 -- REVIEW WHAT THE OPPONENT HAS DONE SINCE THE FIRST MEETING
Michigan has played four games since beating MSU 61-60 in Ann Arbor, going 2-2. They lost to Arkansas 66-64, beat Purdue in West Lafayette 66-64, lost to Ohio State on the road 64-49, and beat Indiana at home 68-56. The Wolverines haven't strayed far from a primarily six-man lineup: Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Zack Novak, and Stu Douglass all average at least 30 minutes a game, Jordan Morgan averages somewhere in the high twenties depending on his foul situation, and Evan Smotrycz's minutes are somewhere in the teens.
STEP 2 -- HIGHLIGHT THE STATISTIC THAT WILL MOST LIKELY BE A BAROMETER OF THE OPPONENT'S SUCCESS OR LACK THEREOF
In the last four games, each time that Michigan has had an effective field goal percentage over 50%, they've won. The converse is also true. While it's simplistic to state that MORE SHOTS MADE = MORE POINTS = GREATER CHANCE OF VICTORY, sometimes one can get sidetracked by the oceans of data in college basketball games, sometimes it's best to keep it simple.
STEP 3 -- HIGHLIGHT THE STATISTIC THAT WILL BE A RED HERRING
Michigan's had offensive rebounding percentages above 30% in three of their last four games; two of those have been losses. Related -- did you see the MSU-Illinois game?
STEP 4 -- REVIEW ANY CHANGES WITH THE TEAM YOU COVER (WHO WILL NOW BE MENTIONED THROUGHOUT THIS DOCUMENT AS "THE GOOD GUYS"), OR "1,000 TINY PRAYERS FOR DRAYMOND GREEN'S KNEE"
Draymond has reiterated throughout this week that only death will keep him off the court. That's all well and good, and I expect he'll play somewhere between 30-35 minutes. I'm not worried about him on offense, but defense might be a bit dodgy -- A significant part of Michigan's offense is cuts toward the hoop, and the knee will be tested.
STEP 5 -- DETAIL SOMETHING UNEXPECTED THAT MIGHT OCCUR, OR IN COLLOQUIAL TERMS, THE "X-FACTOR"
I think MSU was caught somewhat off guard in Ann Arbor by Michigan's four-guard starting line-up; the Spartans will be more prepared for it this time. I expect Izzo won't be gunshy about putting Brandan Kearney in the game if Green's having trouble covering Michigan's guards. Kearney's length and athleticism should be enough to stymie the Wolverines if he can keep track of his man.
STEP 6 -- SUMMARIZE THE PREVIEW AND GIVE A PREDICTION
The adrenaline will be flowing. If you saw Indiana-Purdue yesterday, you know that adrenaline can cause the game to start messily, with bricks a plenty. Once the nerves wear off expect MSU to post an offensive rebounding percentage in the high thirties -- Branden Dawson has really come on in the last couple weeks, and if Morgan gets in early foul trouble, the game plan should switch from a balanced offense to GIVE NIX ALL THE LAY-UPS. As for defense, let's hope the Spartans can limit Michigan's effectiveness from three and cover the cuts.
I desperately hope Michigan State wins this game. I think it'll happen.
FINAL SCORE: MICHIGAN STATE 68, MICHIGAN 60
Enjoy the game everyone.
GO GREEN, GO WHITE, BEAT MICHIGAN.