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Michigan State Basketball: Minnesota Preview

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Michigan State tries to bounce back on the road against Minnesota

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Minnesota

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Time: 3:00pm EST

Channel: ESPN2

KenPom Line: MSU -11

Scouting report

  • 6'9" senior Joey King is their leading scorer at 13.2 points per game but an interesting bit about him is that he has a role player type usage at just 17.2%. His average is high because he plays more than 3/4 of each game and he's very efficient including 44.4% from 3 which is where more than half his shots come from. He's a bit different than Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff in that he's more of a spot-up shooter and he's much more of a big man whereas Uthoff is just an oversized wing. However, King has been in a bit of slump (probably because he's been higher up on the opposing team's scouting report) as he averaged 17.1 ppg in first 8 game, but just 7 ppg in last 5.
  • 6'6" Jordan Murphy might be the most underappreciated freshman in the B1G right now averaging 10.8 points, a team-leading 8.5 rebounds, and gets to the line a lot with a 77.8% free throw rate. He leads the team in usage at 24% and has a solid 112.2 ORtg but has some issues with foul trouble with a 5.4 fouls committed per 40 minutes. He starts at the 3 but he can slide over to the 4 when Minnesota goes small with King at the 5.
  • 6'1" Nate Mason is their point guard who's struggling with his shooting from 3 (29%) after being solid last year (39%). He has a solid assist rate that ranks 8th in the B1G (28.3%) with a pretty low turnover rate (13.2%).
  • 6'9" Charles Buggs and 6'5" Carlos Morris are their two other 3 point shooters with them combining for over 42% from 3 on almost 6 attempts per game. With Buggs and King available as stretch 4's (or even 5's), MSU's defender will have to aware of it either on pick and pops or avoid it overhelping on drives.
  • Their primary center 6'11" Bakary Konate is low usage, offensively limited (high turnover rate), rim-protecting center with some foul issues.
  • Minnesota also has a couple freshman guards in Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer who've been pretty underwhelming especially from deep where they're shooting a combined 7-48 on the year from 3. Any time one of those two shoots a 3, it's a win for the MSU defense.
  • As a team Minnesota doesn't turn it over, gets to the FT line a lot, but doesn't really shoot well or get offensive rebounds (likely due to stretch 4's). On offense they allow a pretty high number of 3's taken and a pretty high percentage of those (37.8%) go in (but some of that is due to bad luck).

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Defense

Things to watch for

  • Can Eron Harris keep it going? After being mostly mediocre for the first half of the season, Harris has stepped it up in Valentine's absence. In the past two games he's had an average of 128.5 ORtg with a 35.5% usage which is absolutely fantastic. A lot of that has been getting to the FT line with 22 FTA's in the past two games and he's also been fine from deep where he's shot 3-5 from 3. Minnesota is a Oakland-level bad defensive team so he presumably should have a good day on the offensive end.
  • Who else steps up? Bryn Forbes had a great game against Oakland with 32 points but struggled to get separation from a more athletic defender in Anthony Clemmons against Iowa. Morris is probably his defender but might have a slightly harder time chasing him around screens at 6'5". Matt Costello has been the most consistent guy for MSU and Izzo will look for him to score a decent amount. The potential issue with relying on a post guy to score is that if the other team chooses to double then it can take it away and there's not a ton MSU can do about that.
  • MSU's small lineup doesn't appear to be working. In both the Oakland game and the Iowa game MSU had its small lineup (Bess or Clark at the 4) out there for less time than a bigger lineup but it still had a worse +/- when it was out there. MSU has had small 4's since basically 2010 with Draymond Green and Branden Dawson but those two aren't at all typical. Draymond is now a one-of-a-kind player in the NBA with his versatility and Dawson had physical tools and athleticism that allowed him to play much bigger than he was (also Bess and Clark are smaller than both of them to begin with). The advantages that a small-ball 4 usually has are outside shooting and/or playmaking but Bess and Clark don't seem to provide either at the moment. I don't know what the starting lineup will be tomorrow but if it was my decision I would go with Kenny Goins at the 4 and then rotate Davis, Schilling, and Costello at the 4 and 5 with him.
Bottom Line

MSU wasn't good against Iowa but Iowa's a good, legitimate team (#14 in KenPom). Even without Valentine, MSU should be able to take care of this Minnesota team who lost 3 senior starters from last year without bringing in a lot of talent.

MSU 72 - Minnesota 66