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Michigan State Spartans Basketball Preview: Ohio State Round 2

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MSU takes on OSU in the BTT Quarterfinals

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Just for fun:

What Happened Last Time

MSU was out-rebounded by OSU, turned the ball over more often than OSU, and got to the line less often than OSU. The difference was three-point and free throw (!) shooting. OSU shot just 29.4% from three and just 38.5% from the free throw line, while MSU shot 46.7% and 57.1% in those same categories.

More than 19 minutes of that game were classified by KenPom as "High Leverage" which makes total sense to me; despite MSU going into the half up by 9, Ohio State fought hard in the second half in get a 51-49 lead with about 4 minutes left. Two Denzel Valentine threes in the last four minutes made the difference.

Ohio State freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell struggled all day, posting just 10 points on 4 for 13 shooting for an efficiency of 88 on 26 percent usage. That was part of a two-game mini-slump for Russell, who also didn't play particularly well against Michigan in their next game. Russell rebounded from those two games, but can have rough patches (he also had a dud against Wisconsin later in the season).

Things That Are Different

Ohio State has been employing the same starting lineup since that MSU game, but Marc Loving has been playing quite a bit more. Loving had come off of a three-game absence due to suspension, and played just 5 minutes in the first meeting. He's averaged a little more than 20 minutes per game in the interceding games.

That helps Ohio State in the category they were deficient in against MSU during the first go-round; Loving is a 46.9% three-point shooter. He can also rebound a bit, though he's not phenomenal in that regard.

Oh, there's also an underrated storyline here: Travis Trice. Travis had been nursing a rib injury at the time of that game, in my Valentine love-piece, I noted just how Valentine had become the go-to guy for MSU usage wise. Well, after that OSU game, Trice's usage per game looks like this: 35%, 40%, 39%, 26%, 40%, 34%. I mean, WOW! That's insane. That's higher usage than D'Angelo Russell during that same span.

During that timeframe, Trice is averaging 20.8 points & 5.2 assists. He's come back from that injury, I think. And it's not that he's caught fire from behind the arc: he's 15 of 40 during that stretch. Trice's ability to continue being effective given huge usage rates will be something to watch over the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

Ohio State

Other than the D'Angelo show, longtime Buckeye Shannon Scott will have the ball in his hands quite often and can distribute pretty well. But he's the same player you knew; turns the ball over a little too much, is not a major outside threat, and will play great defense. Yawn.

Jae'Sean Tate is a much more fun player. He's a rebound-and-putback kind of player who can get to the line but doesn't do too well once there. Keeping Tate, Amir Williams, and Marc Loving off of the boards will be a challenge.

Sam Thompson will defend well and do nothing particularly well offensive other than dunk.

Amir Williams and Trey McDonald are the available bigs for OSU and they're... there. Amir can rebound and block some shots but Trey does nothing particularly well. I think Matt Costello could have a big game.

Michigan State

Tum Tum Nairn put up a nice little 7-5-4 line and hit a three in the first game; I don't expect that out of him again.

Bryn Forbes was nearly invisible, going 0-4 from the field. I'm hoping he gets more involved.

I assume Trice will be a little more assertive in this game, as mentioned before. On the flip side, I'm not sure that Denzel will need to take over late like he did. I'm looking for a quieter, all-around game from Denzel. MSU will need his rebounding from the 3 spot and ability to distribute effectively. Here's to hoping for a dearth of bone-headed plays.

Costello had 9 points but just 5 boards in 21 minutes in the first game. I'd expect him to play more in this game, just because his offensive game is significantly better than Gavin Schilling's at this point.

Branden Dawson... I mean, who knows? His athleticism will be an asset in this game, but his rebounding presence is needed and he could have a major impact on Russell defensively, too. But to come back from a shot to the head in a game like this? That seems like a tall task.

Prediction

Too many things had to go right for this MSU team to win at home by just 3. I just don't think that the manner in which MSU won last time is repeatable. But I also don't expect MSU to be out-rebounded again, either. I have to expect a bit better effort from Mavin Costelling as well. So there are a few things that could go in opposite directions here.

Ohio State just beat Minnesota by 6 while shooting 26% from three. I just don't expect that to continue. It'll be a close game - these always are - but Ohio State regresses to the mean.

Ohio State 61 - Michigan State 57