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Preview: Michigan State Spartans vs. Grand Valley State Lakers

7:00 P.M. (ET), MONDAY
RADIO: SPARTAN SPORTS NETWORK (follow link for list of stations)

The rundown on the Lakers:

  • 21-10 record last season, including 14-8 in the GLIAC (good for a 3rd-place tie in the overall league standings).
  • They're a paradox: A young team (no seniors; 8 freshmen) with quite a bit of experience.  They return 6 of the 8 players who started at least 9 games last season.  Exceptions: Leading scorer Pete Trammel and one-time Wolverine Jerret Smith.
  • Another guy who's missing is newly-minted Spartan Anthony Ianni, who averaged 8.9 minutes per game in 27 apperances for Grand Valley last season.
  • Picked to win the GLIAC North Division this season.
  • And, oh yeah, they beat us two years ago.

The Lakers' top three players this season look to be:

  • 6'4" junior swingman Justin Ringler: 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game last season.  (Also of note: He scored 16 points in the 2007 win vs. MSU.)
  • 6'5" junior guard Toreau Brown: 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season.
  • 6'5" junior swingman (and another one-time Wolverine) K'Len Morris: 8.5 points per game in 12 games last season before suffering a season-ending injury.

Also, look out for sophomore guard Wes Trammel (brother of Pete), who hit 61.1% of his 3-point attempts in limited playing time last season.

Grand Valley should give MSU a little tougher test than Northwood did.  They played solid defense (43.2 opp 2-pt%, 33.8 opp 3-pt%) and were a very good rebounding team last season (36.7 OffReb%, 73.5 DefReb%).  They forced a large number of 3-point shots, indicating they may play some zone.

Still, it's hard to see an upset happening again.  The 2007 MSU team was in search of its offensive identity (a search that continued through the season).  This team shouldn't have that issue: They want to push the ball in transition, attack the basket, and crash the boards.  The one factor that reduces MSU's margin for error is injuries, as Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe will likely both miss the game and Chris Allen and Korie Lucious are both nursing injuries.

For those of us willing to up our investment with to $5.98, this post will also serve as the open thread for the game.  (CLARIFICATION: It's $2.99 for this game.  $5.98 total if you ponied up for the last game, too.)