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Michigan State Basketball: Oakland Preview

Without its star player Denzel Valentine, MSU looks to take on the Oakland Grizzlies in its quest to break the record for most wins to start the season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Oakland

Location: Auburn Hills, MI

Time: 7:00pm EST

Channel: ESPNU

KenPom Line: MSU -12

Scouting report

  • 5'9" Kahlil Felder might be one of the best offensive players in the country. He's second nationally in scoring and first in assists with a great 120.8 ORtg to go along with his huge 32.5% usage.
  • Sophomore transfer Martez Walker at 6'4" might end up as their second best player but he's played just one game where he scored 18 points on 11 shots and 1 FTA against Washington last Saturday. Based on his stats he was  solid role player in Texas but transferred due to alleged domestic violence issues at Texas.
  • 6'6" senior Max Hooper is one of the most interesting guys that I've seen. In his 3 years playing he's shot 22 FTA's, 11 2PA's, and 299 3PA's shooting them at a 40% clip. He shots almost 9 3PA's per game and doesn't do much else but he's someone that needs a defender close to him at all times.
  • They have a couple solid frontcourt players in 6'7" Jalen Hayes and 6'9" Percy Gibson but some of their (and every other player's) efficiency might be a little inflated due to a not great schedule thus far. However, they're not an overly big team and their rebounding rates aren't particularly good considering who they've played so far.
  • Oakland has a great offense ranked 22nd nationally (third best that MSU has faced behind Louisville and Kansas) but an awful defense at 220nd nationally (third worst MSU has face behind Arkansas Pine Bluff and Maryland Eastern Shore).

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Defense

[Someone in the comments asked about having a little more context on what these numbers mean so here's where they rank nationally out of the 351 D-1 teams. The ranks are subject to slight change because I grabbed them from the night before but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯]

Things to watch

  • Valentine isn't walking through that door. MSU will have to find offense from somewhere else. Harris is starting in his place and he's the most obvious candidate to create offensively due to his reputation in practice and what he did at West Virginia a couple seasons ago. Their center Gibson is big at 270 lbs and MSU might be able to take advantage if they can get him into high screen and rolls.
  • While Felder might be a great player, MSU might have just the guy to defend him in Tum Tum Nairn. At 5'10" he should be quick enough to mostly contain Felder's speed. One piece of information I found is that in the Moneyball Pro-Am this past summer Felder had his worst game against Nairn's team where he shot just 5-14 for just 16 points.
  • Who else wants to take shots? The issue with this MSU team is that most of them are finishers who benefit from a playmaker rather than creators on the offensive end. We've seen Bess and Costello create on occasion in the post and Nairn creating in transition but not a ton outside of that.

Bottom Line

If there was ever a game for MSU role players to step up, this it.Oakland's offense is legitimate but its defense will allow MSU to take advantage enough for them to eventually come out on top.

MSU 75 - Oakland 71