Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ohio State Preview #2

The Spartans look to overcome their devastating defeat to Northwestern last Wednesday evening as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Earlier this year, MSU beat the Buckeyes 67-58 essentially because of excellent rebounding and good outside shooting. In that contest, the Spartans had a +8 rebounding advantage and finished 8-17 from behind the arc. Kalin Lucas led Michigan State with 20 points on 6-8 shooting.

Ohio State (13-4 overall, 3-3 in the conference)

Key Wins:
at Miami (FL) 73-68
Notre Dame (neutral site) 67-62
Butler 54-51
at Michigan 65-58

Key Losses:
West Virginia 76-48
at Minnesota 68-59
at MSU 67-58
at Illinois 67-49

Why Ohio State Could Win:
1) Inside Presence - Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens are dominating forces inside the paint, especially defensively. In their first matchup, the Spartans benefited from Lauderdale's early foul trouble which limited his play. The defensive standout finished with three blocks and together with B.J. Mullens, altered many more shots. Despite Michigan State winning the rebounding battle, the margin was only +8 (7 below MSU's conference average) and the Buckeyes gathered 12 offensive rebounds. I expect Michigan State to struggle offensively inside the paint due to Ohio States long shot blockers.
2) Good 3-Pt Shooting - As a team, Ohio State currently is the second best three-point shooting team within the conference. They are hitting 40% of their shots from behind the arc. They are led by Jon Diebler who converts 48% of his attempts within the conference. In the first meeting, however, Travis Walton effectively shut Diebler down holding him to 2-8 shooting, including 1-6 from the 3-pt line.
3) B.J. Mullens - Starting with the Michigan State game, B.J. Mullens has had five straight contests where he has scored in double figures. Currently he leads the Big Ten in FG% at a remarkable 72%. The problem for the Buckeyes, in my opinion, is that Thad Matta has generally been ignoring the young talented freshman. Instead of running the offense through Mullens, he has insisted on going through Evan Turner and Jon Diebler. Let's hope that he doesn't figure out how to feed the big man against us.
4) Michigan State Turnovers - As we all know, Michigan State cannot take care of the rock right now. Within the conference, they are ranked 10th in turnover margin at more than -3 per game. Indiana is last at -5.
5) Home Court Advantage - The Buckeyes are 10-1 at home this year with their only loss being to West Virginia. For some reason, I keep thinking that we don't usually play well at Value City Arena, but the Spartans have won 4 of their last 6 there. I think I have last year's debacle where MSU blew a 10 point lead with 12 minutes left and ultimately lost by 9.

Why Michigan State Can Win:
1) Point Guard Play - The Buckeyes biggest weakness at this point of the season is point guard play. William Buford has been hot of late, even winning the Big Ten Player of the Week last week, but he is more of a scorer than he is a floor general. I expect Kalin Lucas to have another big game against the young freshman.
2) Rebounding - As I always do, I'm expecting to win the rebounding war like we always do. Today, however, I think rebounding is especially important. Ohio State has the potential to grab more boards that Michigan State and if they do, we will undoubtedly lose.
3) Raymar Morgan - Despite struggling in the first matchup, I like him against Evan Turner. I think that Morgan can score consistently against the athletic Turner. The question is, will Raymar show up?
4) OSU's Lack of Depth - The Buckeyes effectively play only 7 players. Michigan State should have the obvious advantage if this game comes down to fatigue. The question is, can our bench step up and produce.

This is going to be a difficult game for the Spartans. They are coming off of a horrendous loss at home and now have to win on the road within the conference. Given their recent struggles, I expect the Buckeyes to utilize a lot of zone defense. With the dominating inside presence of Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens, especially defensively, I think MSU is going to have a hard time scoring inside. As a result, this game will come down to how well the Spartans can hit shots from the outside. While my heart says to pick MSU, logic tells me that the Spartans can't pull this one out on the road.

Ohio State over Michigan State 64-56.


"If you need a loss to straighten you out, you're either poorly coached or you have disrespectful players."

--Tom Izzo after being asked if a loss can send a message to his players.

Either way, this statement is not comforting. I guess I'll pick poorly coached because that should be easier to fix.

""I see him every game I can catch, and he's not the same player." --Dallas Lauderdale, Ohio State Center, regarding Delvon Roe to a recent Cleveland newspaper.

I'm happy with the Delvon that we have, thank you. He's playing solidly and is rebounding the ball really well. Roe Looking for Delvon.

Big Ten News
1) Michigan Beats NW 68-59 - The game featured 54 three point attempts. The difference between us and Michigan was that they only turned the ball over 8 times. Kevin Coble finished with 21 points on 9-18 shooting. The most impressive statistic in this game was how Manny Harris led the game with 12 rebounds.
2) Illinois Over Wisconsin 64-57 - Demetri McCamey had 25 points and 7 assists for a rare win against the Badgers
3) Penn State Over Iowa 63-59 - Just after I criticized Tim Staudt for having Penn State ranked 9th in the Big Ten, they looked terrible against the Hawkeyes.

Tomorrow: Ohio State Post Game #2.

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