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MSU Takes on Seton Hall in Gavitt Games

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The Spartans will face a tough road test against the 12th ranked Pirates

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

Michigan State continues their tough early schedule tonight with a road matchup against Seton Hall as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Spartans come in at number three in the AP Poll, while the Pirates are at number twelve. It is a tough early road game for MSU, after dropping the season opener on a neutral court to Kentucky.

There are a couple of factors at play that make this one tough to predict. First off, and probably the biggest factor, is that Seton Hall’s All-American Myles Powell is a game time decision and sounds like he will miss the game.

Powell averaged 23.1 points per game last year and put up 27 in Seton Hall’s opening game before hurting his ankle early in the game on Saturday. Powell is a game changer and one of the best pure scorers in the country. He can take over a game at any time.

NCAA Basketball: Stony Brook at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Without Powell, Seton Hall is a much different team. Last year they were 18 points worse per 100 possessions with Powell out of the game. That is a pretty significant drop off, and one that might be tough to overcome.

Even if Powell plays, you have to wonder how effective he will be, having barely done any basketball activities since the injury.

Meanwhile, on the MSU side of things, you have to wonder about the psyche of the team after the events of the past week. On Saturday Cassius Winston’s younger brother died, and somehow Winston was able to go out and play the next day. The team cruised to a win over Binghamton, but that was a home game against a low-tier opponent, not a road game against a top-15 team.

If the Spartans come out and play an even, sloppy, undisciplined game, I wouldn’t be shocked. On the flip side, you never know how much something like this can bring a team together, especially one as close as this group has been over the last few years. Either outcome wouldn’t surprise me all that much.

Here are some more notes on both squads before they tip it off at 8:30 tonight.

Seton Hall

The Pirates are 2-0 but both wins were home games against sub-200 KenPom teams.

With Powell out in the second game the leading scorers were Sandro Mamukelashvili (17 points), Quincy McKnight (14 points), and Romaro Gill (10 points). Mamukelashvili is averaging 14 points per game so far, and McKnight is at 12 points per game. Mamukelashvili is a 6-11 junior and McKnight is a 6-4 senior who both play about 75% of the team’s minutes.

Romaro Gill checks in at 7-2, and the Pirates also have 7-2 Ike Obiagu coming off the bench, so they can throw some size at you. MSU struggled with Kentucky’s length, so we will have to see if that plays a factor in this game as well.

Despite the size, Seton Hall isn’t a great rebounding team. They are 178th in offensive rebounding rate and 172nd on the defensive glass. They can block some shots at 12.5 percent so far, but remember the opposition hasn’t been that good.

Michigan State

The big number that is going to stand out for MSU is the three point shooting. MSU is shooting 23.5% from beyond the arc, which is 308th nationally. Three-point shooting is overall way down with the arc being moved back, but MSU is going to have to get better than 23.5%, especially I they are going be chucking 25.5 threes per game.

Cassius Winston is phenomenal and obviously what makes this team go, but Aaron Henry may very well be the key to MSU’s production. He missed most of the first half against Kentucky in foul trouble, but then played a big role in the second half comeback attempt. Against Binghamton he was the MVP with 16 points, three blocks, and four steals.

Henry will likely get Powell on defense if he does play, but even if he doesn’t I expect Henry to draw the opposition’s top wing player game in and game out.

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

Marcus Bingham has provided a really nice spark for MSU in the first few games. He has 20 points and 12 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action so far, including a career high 13 points against Binghamton. You are going to have to live with some mistakes from him, but he has been a noticeable positive when he has been out there.

KenPom gives Michigan State a 65% chance to win, with a final score prediction of 75-71. I expect this to be a tight one, regardless of if Powell plays. This would be a big road win for MSU, and would wipe away some of the sting from losing to Kentucky.

The game is at 8:30 on FS1 with Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery on the call.