Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Minnesota Preview

The Spartans travel to The Barn to open Big Ten conference play today.

Minnesota (12-0) Ranked #21 in both polls

Key Wins: vs. Louisville
Key Losses: None

Why they could win:
1. They have a potent offense. Minnesota has been very successful on the offensive end so far this season. They are led by junior guard Lawrence Westbrook who is averaging 13 ppg. He is joined in the backcourt by Blake Hoffarber who is a deadly three point shooter and most notably known for the amazing pair of shots posted here and here. He is a human highlight real and is currently converting on 46% of his shots from behind the arc.
2. They can block shots. Three players on the team are averaging right around 2 blocks per game. Damian Johnson has the highest average at 2.7 pg despite being only 6-7. The more traditional shot blockers are Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson.
3. Great Coaching. Tubby is a legend and will have his team ready to play. Can he get more out of his players than Izzo?
4. It's a Big Ten opener on the road for the Spartans. In Big Ten openers on the road, Tom Izzo is 2-6.
5. Delvon Roe is injured. You would think that losing a freshman wouldn't be that big of a deal, but this could be devistating. He provides a sound basketball presence and a solid ability to rebound the basketball. Without him, we will have to rely on Marquise Gray waking up and realizing that if he doesn't start producing in the next two months, he will be on his way back to Flint forever.

Why Minnesota could lose:
1. Suspect defense - Despite their shot blocking statistics, they have struggled on the defensive end. They are ranked 8th in the Big Ten with regards to scoring defense and to make things worse, this has been against a very weak schedule. The Spartans will put them to the test as they currently lead the Big Ten in scoring offense.
2. MSU is a better rebounding team - This will be put to the test without Roe in the line up, but I anticipate winning this battle. Suton should provide a good inside presence and hopefully gets some easy offensive boards.
3. Lack of athleticism. Undoubtedly, the Spartans have better athletes. The question is can Izzo get them to produce a win. I anticipate Tubby going to his bench often as he currently has 10 players averaging more than 10 minutes per game.
4. Good coaching. Izzo can go toe for toe with Tubby.

Like all road games in the Big Ten, this one is going to be difficult to win. Minnesota appears on the schedule at probably the worst time as they are beaming with confidence and ready to make a name for themselves. In order for the Spartans to win, they will need superb leadership from Kalin Lucas and another great game from Goran Suton. Morgan cannot disappear and Chris Allen will have to utilize any minutes that he might see.

In the end, I see the Spartans losing a heart breaker.

Minnesota over MSU 77-72.

Other Big Ten Notes:
1. Illinois upsets Purdue - This was a great game. In my opinion, Illinois should have won but almost blew it. JuJuan Johnson missed a go-head FT with one second left in regulation for the Boilermakers. Illinois then went on to win in overtime.

Tomorrow: Minnesota Post Game.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment or email me. All comments will be read, but not all of them will be published. I plan on picking a select few and discussing them on tomorrow's blog. Please leave a handle and your location. Email addresses are optional, but if you leave one, I can send you a message if I am going to publish your comment.