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Michigan State Spartans Basketball: Arkansas Pine Bluff Preview

Michigan State takes on Arkansas Pine Bluff for the third time

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Arkansas Pine Bluff

Location: East Lansing, MI

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Channel: ESPN3

KenPom Line: MSU -24

Coming off of a mid-week upset against Kansas in the Champions classic, this MSU team is up against significantly easier competition in the Golden Lions from UAPB. The Golden Lions' logo is really awesome though. I mean, check it out:

[The mane spells out UAPB. This blows my mind.]

Anyways, barring a total collapse, this should be a nice tune-up win for MSU. Some other Golden Lions notes:

  • UAPB plays their first 16 games away from home. After playing the entirety of their non-conference schedule away from home, the Southwestern Athletic Conference scheduled their first three conference games on the road, as well. UAPB appears to be playing no fewer than 8 paycheck games (Oklahoma State, MSU, Cincinnati, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Missouri). I wonder if this is because so many P5 teams now discourage their football programs from playing FCS competition; basketball is another way to fund your athletic department, I suppose.
  • The Golden Lions actually have more length than MSU. KenPom suggests that UAPB's effective height (height by minutes played, essentially) is 0.6 inches above the NCAA D1 average, while MSU's is slightly below the NCAA D1 average (-0.3 inches). This is unusual for a cupcake.
  • UAPB went 1-1 against Texas Southern last season. I hate to bring this up, but the Golden Lions share the same conference with the team that upset MSU in the Breslin Center.

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

[I expect a lot of offensive rebounds. Also, turnovers.]

MSU on Defense

[I expect a lot of missed shots. #Analysis]

Stuff To Watch

  • Can Eron Harris break out of his slump? UAPB is going to play some zone, which will give secondary ballhandlers and shooters some space. If Harris can't drop a few threes in today, the concern about his ability to be an offensive playmaker will grow.
  • Matt Costello in the post. Costello has been efficient (133.5 ORating) and has taken on a larger role (+3.9 usage from a season ago) offensively than he had in previous years. Here's to hoping that continues.
  • Turnovers. This is always an early season Izzo bugaboo, but UAPB has done a pretty good job of forcing turnovers this year (#3 in the nation in defensive turnover percentage) and MSU had some issues in this area against Kansas. In what is probably going to be a loose game, can MSU take care of the ball a little better?
  • Free Throws. MSU shot 60.7% from the line against Florida Atlantic, and then recovered and shot 87.5% against Kansas in game two. Which of those two performances was more telling?

Bottom Line

The Golden Lions are pretty bad on both sides of the ball but present a slightly different challenge than the two opponents thus far. Izzo certainly has some more tinkering to do with rotations, as well. Hooray for SWACrifices!

MSU 90 - UAPB 67