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MSU vs. Virginia Tech: Preview/Game Thread

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Your Michigan State Spartans vs. the Virginia Tech Hokies
Barclays Center - Brooklyn, N.Y.
Nov. 22, 2013, 9:30 P.M.

TV: TruTV
Online streaming: TruTv.com

MSU travels to Brooklyn for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Spartans will play Virginia Tech on Friday night and either Seton Hall or Oklahoma on Saturday night.

With basketball playing tonight and tomorrow, plus football, previews/recaps will be shorter than normal.

MSU is the No. 1 team in the country, but it has looked far from it over the past two games, squeaking past Columbia and not pulling away from Portland until well into the second half. Virginia Tech comes into this one at 3-1. After a home loss to USC-Upstate to open the year, the Hokies have rebounded with home wins over West Virginia, Western Carolina and VMI.

The Hokies have about as balanced of an attack as you can get, with five players averaging double-figures, though one has played one game. Two more players average at least eight points per game.

Forward Jarrell Eddie leads the team with 16.5 points. He's shooting 50 percent from behind the arc and averages 5.8 rebounds per game. Guard Ben Emelogu has the best offensive rating, averaging 15.8 points and 3.5 rebounds. Forward Trevor Thompson leads the team in usage rate. He averages 8.7 points and and 7.3 rebounds in 17.7 minutes.

Elsewhere, Devin Wilson (10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.5 turnovers) runs the point. C.J. Barksdale missed the first three games, but he scored 16, grabbed six rebounds and had three assists in his one game.

As a team, the Hokies are No. 157 in adjO, shooting an eFG% of 52.7. They're shooting 44.8 percent on 3s (No. 16) and 47.1 percent on 2s (No. 209). They do a good job of getting to the line (51.9 FT rate) and turn it over an average amount (18.4 percent). Overall, it appears to be a solid offensive team.

Defensively, the Hokies also been decent, No. 134 in adjD. Opponents have an eFG% of just 42.5 (No. 40), shooting 28.7 percent on 3s and 42.2 percent on 2s. Virginia Tech doesn't turn opponents over (11.4 percent), but they do have a block rate of 18.5 (No. 17).

Based on performances this season, MSU will be pushed on the glass. The Hokies are grabbing 37.6 percent of misses (No. 67), while opponents are getting 31 percent (No. 146). MSU's current OR% of 33.8 would be the lowest since 2004. That's obviously a small sample size, but, outside of Kentucky, MSU has struggled against overmatched teams.

Virginia Tech is No. 84 in tempo. MSU is going to want to run more than they have, especially given the struggles of the halfcourt offense. The Spartans are No. 200 in tempo, though the Columbia game hurts that.

KenPom gives MSU a 91 percent chance, picking a 80-65 score. If MSU doesn't fix its rebounding problem, this game could be some trouble. Tom Izzo is still tinkering with lineups, and he'll have to if Matt Costello doesn't take control of the center spot.

This is also the Game Thread. No links to illegal game streams, no slurs, and please don't feed the trolls.

GO GREEN, GO WHITE, BEAT VIRGINIA TECH!