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Men’s Basketball: Northern Illinois Preview and Gamethread

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info:

Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

When: Saturday, Dec 29, 2pm (ET)


Northern Illinois: NR (AP), NR (Coaches), 144 (Kenpom)

Depth Chart:

1 - German (6’0” jr), Travis (6’0” jr)
2 - Henry-Hayes (6’4” so), Mateen (6’0” so)
3 - Thorpe (6’4” sr), Daow (6’4” so), Richie (6’6” fr)
4 - Bradley (6’7” sr), Key (6’8” sr)
5 - James (6’9” sr), McCarty (6’8” jr)

Mark Montgomery brings his Northern Illinois squad to visit his mentor Tom Izzo. Northern Illinois is the least-bad of the group of not-as-good teams MSU plays in the non-conference, and should be a good ramp-up game as the Spartans head back into the slog-fest of conference play. The only team of note that NIU has played is Butler, who destroyed them, but they have a very efficient offense (#40 in Kenpom), with the mitigating factor of having played a whole bunch of cannon-fodder teams. They shoot a good 3pt% (nearly 42% on the year), but don’t take nearly enough of them. They don’t get to the line, and they don’t hit their fts very well when they get there. They force very few turnovers (#336 in the nation per Kenpom) and don’t block shots either (#310 in Kenpom). For these reasons, they really struggle on defense (#297 in Kenpom), but, thankfully, courageously continue to play man defense (zone defense is good for no human alive, and just eliminates any last vestige of hope for a professional basketball career for any kids with those aspirations; so “smaller” schools should always be applauded for playing man-to-man).

Players to watch:

  • German (68% mins, 116 Ortg, highest usage guy on the team, 55% from 2, 45% from 3, gets to the line a bit)
  • Bradley (68% mins, 128 Ortg, second highest usage, 60% from 2, 54% from 3, good rebounder, gets to the line a bit)
  • Henry-Hayes (51% mins, 152 Org, small usage, 48% from 3


This should be straight-forward. Nick Ward should have another big game, Tillman and Goins should have big days in the PnR (NIU is awful in PnR defense), and our 3-pt shooters should have a ton of open looks.

Prediction: MSU 104 NIU 65

Make Gamethread go now!!!