The Spartans are heading to Detroit to take on the Baylor Bears men’s basketball team on a neutral court. The matchup was expected to be between two of the top teams in the country, unfortunately only one of those teams has lived up to the preseason expectations.
Game Time: Saturday, December 16th, at 2:00pm (US East Coast Time)
Watch the game: Fox (Streaming in the FoxSports App)
Comment and Follow Live at the GAME THREAD HERE (live at 12noon)
Some basics to sound like a pro:
The Spartans opened the season in almost every preseason top five. Since then they have lost to big name programs including Duke and Arizona, small programs like James Madison, and two Big Ten opponents in Wisconsin and Nebraska. That was not the plan.
At the forefront of the struggles has been the Spartans poor shooting. The team is shooting nearly 12% worse from both the three point line and the free throw line than they were a year ago. The real concern is the team managed to lose to a middling Nebraska team even after shooting well from outside.
The Spartans are desperate for more help inside, as their two centers, Mady Sissoko and Carson Cooper have struggled throughout the year. Their third center, Jaxon Kohler, is not expected back from injury in time to face off against Baylor. Even worse, their five start freshman Xavier Booker has looked lost and at times unplayable at the college level. It’s still very early in his career, so long term that may change, but it is getting later in the year for that change to matter much this year.
The Spartans will need fifth year senior Tyson Walker to carry them in this game - as he has most of the season averaging over 20 points a game. The challenge will be finding a second, or third, player to score alongside him if the team hopes to keep up with Baylor’s high powered offense.
Baylor is big and powerful. They are led by Ja’Kobe Walter and Rayj Dennis who both average just under 15 points a game. Four more players for the Bears average double digit scoring. This balance feeds one of the highest scoring offenses in the country, averaging 91 points and a winning margin of 23.5 points.
If there is a glimpse of opportunity for the Spartans its that the level of competition Baylor has played this year has not been very high. Their two highest ranked opponents have been Oregon State and Florida. Neither program is having a stellar year. Baylor is fixing that scheduling issues with Michigan State and a game against Duke coming up next.
The Bears will need to keep their offense humming against a Spartan defense that has shown flashes of competitiveness against big name opponents already this year.
BBD: 86-62 Baylor win