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Michigan St vs Tennessee Tech Preview

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The Spartans look to keep momentum going against the Golden Eagles of TTU (2pm EST, BTN)

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee Tech at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After contests against some of the biggest name programs in the country, Michigan State has finally hit the soft underbelly of its schedule. Today’s opponent, Tennessee Tech, hasn’t done much of that whole “tough games” thing.

Can the Spartans avoid a terrible home upset? Yes, but lets look anyways.


The Basics

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee Tech at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

Record: 4-6 (1-4 away)

Best Win: @ Alabama A&M, 79-74

Worst Loss: @ Lipscomb, 104-85

Last Five Games

  • 12/4 — vs Crowley’s Ridge College W 98-51
  • 12/3 — @ Alabama A&M W 79-74
  • 12/1 — @ Lipscomb L 104-85
  • 11/18 — Hiwassee College W 80-47
  • 11/25 — @ Ohio L 68-57

Golden Eagles To Know

  • G Aleksa Jugovic (6’3” 185, Soph) — 17.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 41% 3PT
  • G Kajon Mack (6’3” 185, Sr) — 10.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 31% 3PT

First of all, I’m not convinced that Crowley’s Ridge College or Hiwassee College are real places. If they are, I apologize to any famous alumni.

In my (admittedly limited) research, Tennessee Tech does not appear to be much of a team. The Golden Eagles are 1-4 away from home and their “best loss” is either by 15 at Georgia Tech or by 12 at home to Central Michigan. They actually had the lead in the second half against the Chips, but fell apart down the stretch.

The key to winning is to keep the Serbian Jugovic from going bananas from deep. The sophomore has attempted at least six three’s in all but one of the team’s games so far and is still shooting over 40% despite the volume. Slow him down and this should be a cakewalk

How Does MSU Match Up

NCAA Basketball: Oral Roberts at Michigan State Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

My love affair with Nick “Big Puddin” Ward has officially begun.

With all of the health issues that Tom Izzo’s bunch have been hit with so far, Ward has been forced to be the only true big man to play consistent minutes and, despite being undersized himself at only 6’8”, has gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected from him, so far.

He has incredibly soft hands in the post, surprising awareness on defense and hasn’t shown the propensity to foul constantly the way other MSU big men *cough* Gavin Schilling *cough* have in the not-so-distant pass.

Plus, he’s lovable. Just look at him! He’s just a big happy teddy bear playing hoops. Back to the game.

Unlike against basically every other opponent they’ve played so far, MSU should not be at much of a size disadvantage today. TTU three players listed at 6’8” and two of them, JaCardo Hawkins and Micaiah Henry, combine for 9.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg, which is good until you remember it’s two people and not one. For reference, Puddin’ is himself averaging 12.1 ppg and 6.2 rpg (9 rpg since Bridges went down) and should have himself a day.

If the Spartans can keep Jugovic from going full-on Jimmer and control the glass, they should win handily.

Prediction

Ward owns the glass, Eron Harris has a hot shooting day and Cassius Winston continues to evolve into MSU’s heir apparent at the point.

BONUS PREDICTION: TTU has at least two shot clock violations courtesy of the Izzone.

MSU 78 - TTU 60