MATCHUP OF THE DAY: (21) Wisconsin 12-3 (2-1) at (24) Michigan State 10-5 (2-1)
Michigan State once again has started slow early on in the season after a Final Four appearance. Maybe the lofty expectations put on the team in the pre-season were unfair. The Spartans have always been a team that gets better as the season goes along. State also has the beneficiary of being at home at the Breslin Center.
Surprise, surprise, Bo Ryan is at it again. He has his Badgers in fine position. Wisconsin hasn’t finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten during the nine year tenure of Ryan.
The Sparties haven’t been able to hold onto the ball. They’ve turned it over 15 plus times a contest.
Rebounding has been a concern. Coach Izzo prides himself in having his teams box out. Last year the team was first in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at +8.6. The rebounding margin for the Sparties so far this season has been just plus two.
Draymond Green and Delvon Roe are the two key rebounders, but Michigan State has yet to find a third wheel on the glass. Green snatches down 8.9 a night while Roe pulls down 5.7. The loss of Raymar Morgan seems to be bigger and bigger as the season has gone along.
I’m not sure what’s up with Kalin Lucas; maybe my expectations of him were too high. He’s still not playing badly, but I thought he would be a National Player of the Year contender. His assist to turnover ratio isn’t great. He’s averaging 14.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, but also 2.6 turnovers per game. He can shoot, drive, strip and dish with the best of them, but he needs to take care of the ball.
The leading scorer so far for Michigan State has been Durrell Summers. He’s putting in 15.6 points a night.
You have to love Ryan’s swing offense; the guards go in the post and the forwards shoot from the perimeter. 6-foot-10 senior forward Jon Leuer has benefited greatly from Ryan’s offense. Leuer averages 19.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg. He causes matchup problems because of his ability to shoot the basketball.
Devin Harris, Kameron Taylor, Trevon Hughes and now Jordan Taylor, it’s not a fluke that Wisconsin continues to churn out talented point guards. Not only is Taylor dishing out 4.8 assists per night, he’s giving the ball away just 1.1 times a game. Oh, and he can also score. He averages 16.4 points per game.
Taylor is a guy who can get in the lane, but now with his improved three point shooting (39.7 percent), he’s become a force in the Big Ten. He shot just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc last year.
Sophomore Ryan Evans is a stifling defender. He’ll be on Summers.
PREDICTION: MSU Wins 61-59
The individual matchup of Lucas and Taylor should be fun.
Also, I’m curios to see how the Spartans defend Leuer. I think they’ll put the athletic Roe on him.
Michigan State will win because they’re at home.
THE BEST OF THE REST
- Big Ten: (16) Illinois 13-3 (3-0) at Penn State 9-6 (2-2) ***UPSET SPECIAL***
Penn State’s Talor Battle and Illinois’ Demetri McCamey should have a nice little duel. Battle averages a Big Ten leading 20.5 ppg, while McCamey puts in 16.2 points a night.
Penn State is going to have to handle the inside size of Tisdale and Davis on the glass; they both average seven rebounds a game.
- SEC: Florida 12-3 (1-0) at Tennessee 10-5 (0-1)
Both teams are unranked after starting the season in the top 25.
This should be a fun one as both teams possess some guys who can put the ball in the bucket; Tennessee's 6-foot-7 Scotty Hopson (16.3 ppg) and 6-foot-8 freshman Tobias Harris (15.5 ppg) vs. Florida's 5-foot-8 Erving Walker (14.3 ppg) and 6-foot-2 Kenny Boynton (12.6 ppg). As you can see the size of Tennessee will play a factor.
- ACC: NC State 11-4 (1-0) at Boston College 12-4 (2-0)
Both teams have been pleasant surprises, Boston College more so than NC State.
Tracy Smith is a mammoth inside for the Wolfpack, and freshman forward C.J. Leslie has lived up to the hype thus far.
NC ST, 74-72
- M-West- (10) BYU 16-1 (2-0) at Utah 7-9 (0-2) ***Mid-Major Game of the Night***
It’s the Holy War, anything can happen! But BYU has the mini Larry Bird in Jimmer Fredette (24.9 ppg)
- Big 12: (14) Texas 12-3 (0-0) at Texas Tech 8-8 (0-1)
The Longhorns are a tricky team to gauge at home, but they should be able to take care of the Red Raiders.
- Big East: Rutgers 10-5 (1-2) at (9) Connecticut 12-2 (1-2)
The Huskies come off a huge overtime win at Texas.
Mike Rice is doing a fine job turning the Scarlet Knights around thus far.
- Big 12: Oklahoma 8-7 (0-1) at Baylor 11-3 (1-0)
Oklahoma is horrible.
- SEC: Auburn 7-8 (0-1) at (15) Kentucky 12-3 (0-1)
Auburn scored just six first half points against LSU in their last game. That’s not good.
- MAC: Bowling Green 6-9 (1-0) at Kent State 9-6 (0-1)
Kent State forward Justin Green can ball.