The Big East is facing off against the Big Ten for the last time in the final Gavitt Games. This weeklong event features some high profile matchups. Michigan State’s opponent is the Butler Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have had substantial roster turnover and are expected to finish in the lower half of the Big East. The matchup features some familiar faces for the Spartans and should be an important test for a Michigan State squad still figuring things out.
Game Time: Friday, November 17th at 6:30pm (US East Coast Time)
Watch the game: FS1 (or streaming in the Fox Sports App with a cable subscription)
Comment and Follow Live at the GAME THREAD HERE (live at 4:30pm)
Some basics to sound like a pro:
The Spartans came into the season with a #4 ranking and National Championship aspirations. In typical Michigan State fashion the team has struggled in the early going. Their 1-2 record features a neutral court loss to Duke and a shocking home opener loss to mid-major James Madison University (who went on to have a fantastic first ten days of the season).
In all three games (four if you count the exhibition game against high powered Tennessee) the Spartans have struggled in some key areas. Most notably shooting the ball. While the shooting was decent against Tennessee in the exhibition, it was abysmal through two and a half games - the team hit a total of three 3-pointers in that time. Finally in the second half of the Duke game the shooting got back on track a bit.
Beyond team shooting, senior point guard AJ Hoggard has surprisingly struggled to regain his aggressive form from last year. This has not helped an offense led by one of the most experienced starting fives in the country that has looked out of sync.
Beyond the starting five, Michigan State plays three freshmen that have excited fans even as they are showing some growing pains.
The Spartans should be looking for this game to be an opportunity to impose their will on a talented competitor.
Butler is a national brand thanks to its Cinderella runs - but those were years ago now. To help this, head coach Thad Matta has returned to Butler to bring glory to the program he helped build into a national name. Most Spartan fans will remember Matta as the former head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Matta brings a roster that has changed significantly since last year, with four of the starting five being transfers. One of those transfers used to wear green and white, namely Pierre Brooks. The former Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan struggled in his time at Michigan State. Now he has a chance to show the Spartans what they may be missing as he starts for Butler.
The Bulldogs are expected to finish in the lower half of the Big East this year. The roster built largely out of transfers - and some incredible height on the bench - may be a reason the team overperforms those projections.
Regardless it will be a good game between these two head coaches that know each other so well.
Andy: 75-69 MSU over Butler
BBD: 87-64 Spartan win
O: 80-64 MSU win