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Michigan State Basketball Four Factors: Michigan

Joe checks in with the Four Factors analysis from the win over Michigan

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Figured I'd do a quick Four Factors analysis. It's not ideal, but I'll take it:

There were 69 possessions total (nice). Overall, the efficiency turns out looking OK (1.10 PPP for MSU, 0.96 PPP for UM) but this suggests that the defense wasn't very good until the overtime shutout. Some quick bullets:

  • The offensive gameplan was something I enjoyed from a stylistic standpoint. Of MSU field goal attempts, 45.8% of them were three pointers, and all of them were attempted by Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes or Travis Trice. That figure is significantly higher than the 30.2% MSU is averaging in Big Ten play.
  • The free throw rate was significantly improved. It's a little suspect that MSU got to attempt more than twice as many free throws as UM, but that seemed reasonable within the flow of the game. The 22 number is perhaps a little bloated due to UM fouling at the end of the first half and overtime. Michigan was actually worse from the free throw line than MSU! It's hard to believe anyone could be worse than the 14-22 that MSU posted, but UM was just 6-10.
  • Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice combined for 16 assists and 4 turnovers. There were some that were sloppy, but that's a nice little 4:1 ratio for the top two offensive creators. And that's without even mentioning Valentine's 25 points.
  • Matt Costello was a monster in OT, but also posted a solid 10-7-4 (points-rebounds-blocks). Costello was one of the lone bright spots at the free throw line (6 for 7), and he also did a great job getting there in the first place.
  • The playing rotation tightened significantly in this game. Just 20% of minutes were played by the bench compared to 32.5% in conference play. I'd like to see more than 10 minutes from Javon Bess, personally. This is an area to keep an eye on going forward.
  • Despite missing what seemed like every close layup or bunny attempt in the first ten minutes, MSU ended with 52.8% shooting from inside the arc.
  • The help defense is still lackluster for Izzo standards. There were too many wide-open threes, like that Spike Albrecht make which brought UM within two during regulation. How a competent defense could allow Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to score 18 points is beyond me. Maybe he's better than I'm giving him credit for; he just doubled his career high for points scored in a game.
  • The "Little Sister" chant continues to be awful. It's nonsensical, misogynistic, and just plain dumb. Let's figure out something better, please?


This is one of the more strange 10-point wins I've ever witnessed, but it helped in virtually every way. This team is solidly in the tournament field, with a win over Michigan, and sits in a clusterf*** of teams behind Wisconsin in the Big Ten. KenPom favors MSU in the next six games, and even a 4-2 record in that span puts MSU at 10-5 heading into the last three games. It's not ideal, but I'll take it.