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Michigan State Basketball: Iowa Preview

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MSU tries to avenge its only loss of the season tonight against Iowa but they will have Denzel Valentine available this time around

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Iowa

Location: East Lansing, MI

Time: 7:00pm EST

Channel: ESPN

KenPom Line: MSU -7

First off I did a Q&A with our sister site over at Black Heart Gold Pants.

Scouting report

Since it's been barely over two weeks and I don't feel like writing it again, here's the scouting report for Iowa that I wrote last time with some updates on the stats.

  • Number one option for Iowa is 6'9" senior Jarrod Uthoff who's been absolutely terrific for the Hawkeyes early on. He's quietly (maybe not quietly, I don't how much you pay attention to basketball) having one of the best seasons in the country averaging 19 ppg with 53%/46%/80% shooting splits, 6 rpg, and even 3 blocks per game despite being more of a perimeter player (however, he's not special).
  • 6'6" Peter Jok is the only other high usage player on the team and while he's nowhere near as efficient as Uthoff, he's another player that can create offense for himself. He also has a solid steal rate suggesting he's at least a decent defender (nothing special though).
  • Iowa also has three other heavy rotation seniors in 6'2" Mike Gesell, 6'2" Anthony Clemmons, and 7'1" Adam Woodbury who've been solid this year but haven't done anything particularly special. Gesell has a great assist rate and is shooting well from 3 but it's a small sample size at the moment as he's a career 32% 3-point shooter. Clemmons has embraced more of a combo guard role next to Gesell and is having his best collegiate season so far. Woodbury has also increased his efficiency and it seems that has come from taking a smaller role in the offense.
  • Iowa is a very good shooting team and they love shooting it. They're ranked #19 nationally in 3P% and they're in the upper quarter in percentage of points that come from 3's. They also share the ball well (#39 in assist rate) and part of that can be attributed to playing in transition as they have the 65th fastest offense per KenPom (MSU is 117th)
  • Iowa neither draws fouls nor do they foul the opposing team. It seems like they like shooting from outside a lot and that's leading to a lack of fouls.

Since the MSU game Iowa has beaten Purdue and Nebraska in which Jarrod Uthoff has averaged 25 points and 4.5 blocks. Mike Gesell has also had 17 assists with just 4 turnovers. While Anthony Clemmons didn't have a big offensive game against MSU, he did a great job holding Forbes to just 3 points.

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Defense

Things to watch for

  • Whether MSU goes with a big or small lineup. Last time against Iowa my numbers indicated that a small lineup with Bess or Clark at the 4 was much worse against Iowa than a bigger lineup was. My guess is they start Schilling at the 4 again try to use his advantage in the post to get Uthoff in foul trouble.
  • Can Forbes make an appearance? Last game against Iowa Forbes had just 3 points. His offense is reliant on coming off screens to get open and it'll be interesting to see if the extra attention given to Valentine will allow him to get more involved on the offensive end.
  • Who finished the game? While Nairn, Forbes, and Valentine will start, there's a good chance they'll switch out Harris and Nairn for offense-defense at the end of games. Harris hasn't been consistent enough on defense just yet and Nairn's jumper still doesn't scare defenses.
Bottom Line

MSU as a team has grown since the Iowa game with Harris and Costello getting more comfortable in offensive creators roles since Valentine has been out. With Valentine back it gives MSU another wing option that isn't liability on either end and he was arguably the best player in the country before the injury happened. MSU should be able to pull this one out on its homecourt and will likely have to if they want to win the B1G regular season title.

MSU 79 - Iowa 75