Opponent: Maryland Eastern Shore
Location: Eastern...sorry...East Lansing, MI
Time: 7:00pm EST
KenPom Line: MSU -28
Man, what a time to be a Spartan. Between the football team's victory over Iowa and the basketball squad rising to tops in the land it has truly become the golden age for Michigan State athletics.
The first team to challenge MSU as #1 is Maryland Eastern Shore, a school we can only assume is located somewhere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. They are led by senior guard Devin Martin who is averaging over 15 points per game and they have been out rebounded in five of their eight games. That is legitimately all I can tell you since I didn't know this school existed until yesterday. To the factors!
MSU on Offense
MSU on Defense
Things to Watch For
1. Matt McQuaid's Point Guard Evolution This should not be a close game. The Hawks are 1-7 and the best team they have played — by a landslide — is unranked Kansas State. They lost by 27. In light of that, expect the bench to see a lot of time, specifically Matt McQuaid, who figures to do much of the second unit ball-handling.
Having a reliable point option aside from Tum Tum Nairn and Denzel Valentine is going to be crucial for the Spartans this season. Valentine can't always be expected to get a triple-double (or CAN HE?!) and Tum Tum isn't an offensive threat from the outside, making McQuaid's development very important. This is probably the easiest game on the schedule and a great opportunity for McQuaid to gain some more confidence as a primary ball handler. Let's hope he can exploit an overmatched MD-ES team.
2. Eastern Shore Depth The Hawks have 10 players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Some of that may have to do with the fact that six of their seven losses have been by double digits and thus a few extra bench players got some serious burn. The Spartans are deeper and miles more talented, but it is something to note. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
3. Controlling Eron Harris When you see Harris go, it's obvious he is a gifted offensive player. What you haven't seen nearly enough is him blending into MSU's offense.
Oftentimes Harris seems to make up his mind on what he is going to do with the ball as soon as it touches his hands, whether the offense dictates it or not. He has had many reckless drives and out of rhythm three's to his credit so far. He can create good looks on his own — and even make a lot of questionable shots — but he needs to allow the offense to create looks for him as well. After all, that is what the sets are designed to do.
This isn't to say he shouldn't improvise and attack when the time is right — that is what makes him the player he is — but he has to start picking his spots more effectively.
I'll cut him some slack since he did sit out last season and was used to having free reign during his time at West Virginia but as we get close to Big Ten play, it would be nice to see him make some strides in this area.
While the team is far from a finished product, they should have no problem running away from the Hawks. This game will provide fans a look at the depth of this team and Izzo an opportunity to throw out some funky lineups. Unlike any game this football season, Spartan nation will be able to sit back and enjoy a stress-free evening.