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Michigan State Men’s Basketball: Oakland Preview

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

Game Info:

Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan

When: 12 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020

TV/Radio: FS1/Spartan Sports Network radio

Oakland (0-6): No. 292 (Kenpom)

Depth Chart:

1 - Jalen Moore (5’11” jr)
2 - Rashad Williams (6’2” jr), Blake Lampman (6’3” so)
3 - Micah Parrish (6’6” fr), Zion Young (6’4” jr), Kevin Kangu (6’4” sr)
4 - Trey Townsend (6’6” fr)
5 - Daniel Oladapo (6’7” jr), Yusuf Jihad (6’8” fr), Chris Conway (6’10” fr)


Oakland is better than their record and their current Kenpom rating, but it is unclear how much better. Like most years, Greg Kampe has scheduled a ton of good teams to start the year, and has suffered the expected consequences: Oakland has opened the season with big losses to Xavier, Toledo, Bradley, and Purdue, while taking Michigan to overtime, and playing Oklahoma State closer than the final score.

Oakland plays a mix of man-to-man and various forms of zone —including a 2-3, 1-3-1, and a match-up 2-3 zone. Michigan really struggled with the zone, but they are not a great defensive team, if their opposition runs effective zone offense and if they hit open shots. Simply put, Oakland gives up a lot of high quality looks for their opponents.

On offense, Oakland relies on Jalen Moore, who is a good scorer and creator, whose best quality might be getting to the free-throw line. Williams and Young are their best shooters, and Williams, in particular is a guy to watch. He has been in and out of the line-up to open the season, but, finally healthy, he put up 32 points (on 10-20 from three-point range) against Oklahoma State.

Oakland runs a lot of pick and roll, and will run a ton of floppy sets in and around the paint and will try to find elbow attack opportunities and baseline clear-outs for anyone with a match-up advantage.

Film Study:

Key Players:

Jalen Moore and Rashad Williams form a truly dynamic duo in the back-court for Oakland. Both guys can really fill it up, will attack the rim, and will pull up from anywhere behind the arc.

Game plan:

Lock down the two guards, and execute the zone offense. Expect Watts, Henry, and Langford to be the keys defensively, on the dynamic Oakland back-court, and look for Marcus Bingham Jr. and Julius Marble to have dominant rim-protection games.

On offense, Malik Hall and Joey Hauser should give Oakland fits at the elbow, and Gabe Brown and Aaron Henry should have big games out in transition.

I am particularly interested to see if Henry and Hall can get themselves going a bit from beyond the arc, and to see if Gabe Brown can assert himself more on the glass—which should be a major advantage and focus for the Spartans generally. Oakland is a small team and Michigan State should dominate the painted area on both ends.


Expect a dominant performance now that Tom Izzo has had a week to prepare the team and refine their offensive execution. With teams around the country losing games to seemingly lesser teams, and with this season potentially under threat of a major pandemic-related storm that is brewing, the Spartans will take this game seriously and play it joyfully.

MSU 90 Oakland 64