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Michigan State Basketball: Purdue Big Ten Tournament Preview

MSU looks to get revenge on the Boilermakers after losing a 1 point game in overtime in West Lafayette. This is the Spartans' third consecutive Big Ten Championship game and fourth in five years.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Purdue

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Time: 3:00pm EST

Channel: CBS

KenPom Line: MSU -4

Scouting report

  • AJ Hammons is their best player and is finally showing what he can do after not fully living up to his potential in his first 2-3 years. He absolutely demolished Michigan yesterday with 27 points on 11-16 shooting (5-7 FT's), 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Thankfully MSU has big men that are a bit better than Nebraska's.
  • Ivan Drago Isaac Haas is the second center on the team who would be starting on 75% of B1G teams. Going off basic stats alone he's just a slightly worse version of Hammons who gets to the foul-line twice as often. However, his issue is that it appears he can't do nearly as well against better teams as his ORtg is a decent but not great 101.7 in the 16 games against Tier A and B opponents (top 50 and 100 essentially).
  • Caleb Swanigan has been a defensive rebounding monster at the 4 spot with his DReb% top 20 nationally. He's willing to take 3's but he's been bad at 30% and he's been even worse in conference play. However, his biggest concern offensively might be his TO% which is dead last among all B1G players that play at least 40% minutes.
  • Kendall Stephens is essentially a 6'6" shooter who hasn't been shooting particularly well this year at just 32%.
  • PJ Thompson is their point guard (who 2nd in the country in ORtg) but they have 4 guys who are between 19.5% and 22.5% in assist rate. While MSU leads the country in assist rate (thanks to Valentine's enormous 45.1%) Purdue isn't far behind at 5th. One thing that helps is multiple shooters that surround the bigs as they have 5 guards/wings that shoot at least 36% from 3 along with Swanigan who someone you probably don't want to leave completely alone and Stephens who's probably a better shooter than his 32% would indicate.
  • Purdue has a defense very similar to MSU's as they force a bad percentage from the field, rebound well, and don't force turnovers (Purdue does a better job of not fouling though).

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Defense

Things to watch for

  • This game is all about stopping Hammons. He's reached the point where he's has everything you'd want in a college center on both offense and defense and it doesn't hurt that he's 7 feet tall. He's a good offensive rebounder, he has a great post-game, and he has a solid mid-range game that just doesn't feel fair. He had 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 blocks in Purdue's win over MSU in the regular season. If I'm Izzo, I go against my general principles and I double him in the post to force Purdue's sub-par guards to make plays.
  • While Rapheal Davis is unlikely to repeat his 19 point performance with 6-8 from the 3 that he had last game (he's bad shooting when not at home), he's still going to be a factor whether he's guarding Valentine or Forbes. With their most common lineup, 6'8" Edwards will most likely be guarding Valentine which leaves Davis on Forbes. Forbes has struggled when teams have focused in on him and he can't affect the game in many other areas if he's not getting good looks coming off screens. If MSU is going to win this game, the good Forbes is probably going to have to show up.
Bottom Line

With the third game in three days for Valentine and MSU, I'm just not feeling great about this one. Purdue size on the interior and length on the perimeter makes them a bad matchup for MSU who usually has an advantage with its big men. Forbes has struggled in the tournament and playing for a third day isn't likely to help him. Valentine had to do a lot yesterday and Purdue is only going to try to tire him out even more by pressing him while he brings the ball up the floor.

MSU 71 - Purdue 75