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Michigan State Basketball: Penn State Preview

MSU goes back on the road in B1G play against Penn State where Denzel Valentine may play his first game since he's had his knee surgery

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Penn State

Location: University Park, PA

Time: 12:00pm EST

Channel: BTN

KenPom Line: MSU -9

Scouting report

  • 6'6" senior Brandon Taylor is their highest usage guy at 29.2% (3rd in the B1G) but he's not overly efficient with a 102.9 ORtg. He provides some outside shooting as a 4 but he's shooting a career high from 3 at just 33.9%. He draws a number of fouls but MSU has enough 4's that it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
  • 6'1" sophomore Shep Garner is their best guard and also has their highest assist rate but it's only 18%. As a team Penn State is 6th to last in assist rate nationally and without great offensive playmakers, it leads to a barely above average offense. Garner is a good 3 point shooter at 39% but is shooting just 22% on 2P jumpers and only 50% at the rim.
  • Josh Reaves and Payton Banks are a couple of young wings that need to know they're not good at outside shooting. Reaves is shooting 9% from 3 on 33 attempts while Banks is shooting a relatively scorching 26% on 58 attempts. As a team Penn State is shooting 30% from 3 which probably has a lot to do with their low assist rate. Without moving the ball they end up having to take bad shots than shooting open 3's.
  • 7'1" senior Jordan Dickerson is a solid big who's a bit foul prone but posts a very good block rate of 12.2% which is 11th nationally (Deyonta Davis' is 13.1% which is 5th). However, it looks like he's mostly just a shot-blocker and finisher as he has an extremely low-usage at 10.9% (KenPom labels players with an under 12% as "nearly invisible").

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Offense

Things to watch for

  • The big question is whether or not Denzel Valentine will be ready for Penn State. Based on Izzo's comments that Illinois was waiting one more game until he was ready, I very much think Valentine will play. This pushes Harris back into the 6th man role where he's hopefully become more comfortable creating his own offense. McQuaid has also been struggling a bit since Valentine's been out and allowing him to be a second-playmaker rather than a primary one is probably going to be a much better situation for him.
  • How healthy will Valentine be? Before he was injured, he was the National Player of the Year frontrunner and that title most likely now goes to Buddy Hield at Oklahoma. He's not overly quick so a lot of Valentine's game was dependent on his outside shooting and it may or may not take some time for him to get back into a rhythm.
  • Who gets cut of the rotation with Valentine back? Ellis appears to be the odd man out as he's averaging a terrible 67.6 ORtg in B1G play and even worse against Tier A & B opponents. Most of his offense has come against cupcakes and Oakland who's a bad defensive team. He needs to shoot better from outside when he has his chances and show himself to be the defender that his athleticism and experience allows him to be.

Bottom Line

Penn State isn't a good team and without good outside shooters, they likely don't have the firepower to put a scare into MSU.

MSU 75 - Penn State 62