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Michigan State Basketball Preview: The Citadel

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The Spartans look to rebound from an embarrassing loss Saturday with their final non-conference test

Uhh coach that face does not match the glory of that tie
Uhh coach that face does not match the glory of that tie
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2-8. 2 and freaking 8. That is the record of the Texas Southern Tigers AFTER they beat the Michigan State Spartans 71-64 in overtime on Saturday night. It was the Tigers' first win over a top 25 team since 1994 and the Spartans join the company of Lamar as the only teams to be mauled by the Tigers.  Needless to say the Spartans have something to prove before the holiday break and Big Ten play, with their final conference game happening tonight against the visiting Bulldogs of The Citadel.

Tom Izzo took much of the blame for the loss Saturday night saying, "As you get older, you start worrying about people liking you, and I did not work my team. I felt sorry for them. I did not work them like I normally do". Well something tells me, Sundays practice was much more spirited from coach Izzo. (#WARDRILL for days). Who knows whether it was finals week obligations, the loss of Branden Dawson to a fractured wrist or what is most likely a combination of the two, whatever it was the Spartans were atrocious Saturday.

The Citadel Bulldogs (4-6)

Time and Place: 6:00 PM, Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

Internet Stream: BTN Plus ($$$)

Even after the loss to the Tigers Saturday, KenPom rankings still have the Spartans ranked 20th in the country. The Spartans sit at 31 in adjusted offense and 35th in adjusted defense. The Citadel is ranked 324 in KenPom with the 268th offense and 344th defense. Look for the Spartans offense to hopefully exploit the Bulldogs defense. The Citadel are a slow paced team, as they rank 351 in adjusted tempo so look for them to obviously try and slow the game down against the Spartans.

The Citadel is coming off  a close 3 point loss at Virginia Tech Saturday, 64-61. Bulldog guard Ashton Moore scored 27 points in that game hitting 7-of-15 shots from behind the arc. The Citadel actually led the game 27-22 at the half and had they pulled off the win, it would have been only their second win over a division one opponent (the other being Navy).

  • The Spartans will still be without Brendan Dawson and he will be evaluated after the break to test if he will be available for the conference opener against Maryland
  • The Citadel's leading scorer is Ashton Moore averaging 17.1 points per game. Also senior center P.J. Horgan will be a player to watch. He averages 12.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
  • Matt Costello had a strong performance Saturday with 17 points and 10 boards. Costello and Gavin Schilling versus P.J. Horgan in the post will be a key match-up
  • Bryn Forbes will need to rebound from an off night. After averaging 50.9% on the season from three, Forbes went 1-of-9 Saturday and the Spartan team went just 4-of-19.
Now you guys know my specialty is hockey and not basketball so I will keep the analysis light.The Spartans have lived by the three and died by the three in the early going this season and bit them on Saturday. The Spartans are much more talented than The Citadel, but more importantly need to use this game to find some consistency heading into conference play. Look for Denzel Valentine to hopefully step up as a leader and distributor and Matt Costello to continue his hot streak. I'll say the threes fall tonight and the Spartans put on a good show of effort from their last game out. The Citadel will slow the pace but lose steam as the game wears on.

Make my prediction MSU 74-Citadel 57. Post your predictions in the comments and Go Green!