So, after the narrow win against Columbia, I'm sure everyone is going to take this game against Portland a little more seriously. For the first time since 2001, MSU will be playing as the No. 1 team in the country.
At the end of the night, MSU will still be numbah-one, numbah-one.
The Pilots are 1-1, with a 100-83 win over UC Davis and a 79-73 loss to Oregon State. They're ranked No. 176 in KenPom. The opposite of Columbia, this team has played pretty fast, No. 77 in adjusted tempo.
Portland is shooting 50 percent on 2s and 38.5 percent on 3s, with a turnover rate of just 15 percent.
This is a game MSU should (finally) dominate on the glass. Portland grabs just 25.7 percent of its misses and allows opponents to grab 33.3 percent. If MSU struggles to rebound in this one, then there's a real problem. Defensively, this team struggles quite a bit.
Players to watch include senior forward Ryan Nicholas and junior guard Kevin Bailey, both of whom average 20.5 points per game and have a usage rate around 30 percent. Both are also hitting more than 84 percent of their free throws, and they've done a good job of getting there. Nicholas also averaged 9.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Bobby Sharp also throws in 14.0 points per game to provide for most of the offense.
Coach Eric Reveno appears to be an Izzo fan.
"Rebounding here is a religion..." Coach Tom Izzo. Begin our pilgrimage today for a fantastic challenge Monday night.
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