Michigan State ready for tonight’s NCAA matchup & they have a big advantage.
The Spartans of Michigan State will see something tonight when they play the Hurricanes that they didn’t have success against in the past. The Hurricanes love to run the “Rub Screen” which is what Middle Tennessee made a living on.
They key to that offense is predicated on making outside shots. While MTSU is knows as a good shooting team, that night they were sharpshooters. The Hurricanes do not have a track record of shooting like MTSU did. That makes this game even more interesting.
Tom Izzo said of this game and the key matchups as, “Michigan State doesn't take threes. And at the same time, we've been one of the better shooting teams in our conference, and we shot the ball awful. So a combination of things hurt us there (against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament). But I don't, one, two, think we will or anything else take 30 threes (Against Miami). We've been a team that's taking in the low 20s. I think we've gotta get the ball inside and that was the other problems. Most of those threes were not inside-out threes. If they're inside-out threes, they're a lot better shot than if they're work the ball around the perimeter threes.”
While his team is so young, Izzo thinks that the many minutes played because of injuries helps them out. “I think they're battle tested. We played that hellacious schedule early. They traveled all over the world. Our league was completely different than last year. Last year we had three, four teams in the Top 10 most of the year. This year we might have had one, but we had probably 10, 12 teams that on any given night could beat anybody. I mean, I think our 13th team in the league tournament was Ohio State, and they're pretty good, well-coached team. And you know, Penn State lost a zillion games by two, three points and were a pretty good team.”
He went on to add, “There was no nights off for us, so I think they're more battle tested. We've played the Kentucky’s and Dukes, and Baylor’s and Wichita States, and who else, Arizona. We played in Oakland. We played at Florida Gulf Coast, who I thought was really, really good. So we've had our share of tough games, and those freshmen had to play in those games. And I do think we got better the last 10, 12 games, even though they weren't always wins. I thought we got better in how we handled things and what we did, and they're improving. I do worry a little bit about it's a long season. You start having 120 practices and all those games and all that travel. But I don't know. We seem pretty fresh right now. I don't think there will be any excuses except try to win the game.”
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga thinks the Miles Bridges is an elite athlete and stopping him is a far-fetched chore. “Miles Bridges is an incredible athlete. And one of the things about Michigan State as a team is they run so well. And Miles Bridges is such a great athlete, he is very, very hard to guard in the open court. Whether he's out in front and trying to dunk on you. Or you close out to take away the three and he drives it and takes it right to the rim.”
He continued on the Bridges narrative by adding, “When a player is so multi-dimensional, you've gotta figure out not how to stop them, but how to at least slow him down, try to limit the number of opportunities he gets to make threes, limit the number of times he beats you off the dribble, limit the number of times he crashes the offensive boards in tip dunks on you. So we're going to have to do a great job both individually and collectively. There's not just one guy that can stop him.”
But while Miami has a great coach and a very good team, MSU has an advantage that isn’t getting attention. I made this Tweet today:
One thing that a lot of people are not talking about is the fact that while this may not be Tom Izzo’s best team, for opponents playing Michigan State in March and there is an intimidation factor.
Hurricane freshman guard Bruce Brown said of playing Michigan State, “It’s exciting. Obviously, they are a great team and have a great coach. They are really well known (in the tournament). We are not really that well known. We are under the radar a little bit.”
Freshman guard DJ Vasiljevic, “They have a great coach in Tom Izzo. They play a lot like North Carolina. They pack it in against you and try to get the easy basket. They are tough as is every team in the tournament.”
This game is going to be a battle royal. I will tell you this, Miami is favored and they should be. BUT, this game is far from out of reach for the Spartans and I think they matchup better with Kansas then they do Miami. Get your popcorn ready for this one everyone, it is March and you know what that means.
The #9 Michigan State Spartans (19-14) tip off tonight somewhere near 9:20 PM ET against the #8 Miami Hurricanes (21-14) and you can see that game on TNT. This is just the second time the two teams have met. The Hurricanes won the first.
Prediction? I always use a factor of ten. If these two teams played ten times I think MSU would win six. So I say make it Michigan State 69 and Miami 63.