|Pos.||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||Michigan State Spartans||Pos.|
|PG||Nate Mason||8.4||2.3||Lourawls Nairn Jr.||PG|
|G||Andre Hollins||14.6||9.1||Bryn Forbes||G|
|F||Charles Buggs||3.9||14.4||Denzel Valentine||G|
|F||Joey King||8.8||12.4||Branden Dawson||F|
|F||Maurice Walker||11.6||6.0||Gavin Schilling||F|
|Bench||Deandre Mathieu||9.6||13.9||Travis Trice||Bench|
|Bench||Carlos Morris||11.0||7.2||Matt Costello||Bench|
|Bench||Gaston Diedhiou||0.3||1.3||Alvin Ellis III||Bench|
If you've paid attention to recruiting over the last few years there will be a few names for the Spartans you may recognize. Ellis and Schilling were both committed to Tubby Smith and the Gophers before making the switch to Michigan State when Tubby was let go. And Tum Tum Nairn was seriously considering Minnesota before finally choosing to play for Tom Izzo. Just interesting to see these somewhat familiar names playing.
I would love to see Andre Hollins get back on track after a couple clunkers. If he can carry the offensive load, that will give us a chance against what is going to be a very difficult defense and a highly efficient offense.
Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)
|Off PPP||1.072||1.125 (23)|
|Def TO%||25.4% (4)||17.1% (294)|
|Off Reb %||30.3%||35.3%|
|Def Reb %||66.7% (274)||74.6% (11)|
Michigan State, similar to Wisconsin, is a controlled and possession-conscious team. When they are playing well they do not turn the ball over (strangely a problem for Izzo teams but when they are playing well their turnovers are down) and when on defense you are usually limited to just one shot. Conversely they don't force turnovers, thereby potentially creating offensive opportunities for their opponents. I love watching a good Tom Izzo team. They execute so well offensively, then defend smartly and will usually lock down the defensive glass. Just so efficient on both ends.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Don't get killed on the boards - This goes for both ends of the floor and it greatly concerns me. We are not a great rebounding team and Michigan State is. I have no delusions of winning the rebounding battle but can we keep it close? The only other option is to just make a really high percentage of shots to make rebounding irrelevant.
Force Turnovers - They are 125th nationally in terms of offensive turnover %, this is possibly and area we can exploit. Must force turnovers and turn those into some points, we will need some easy baskets since scoring is not going to be easy against this defense.
Get to Shooters - Maybe you haven't noticed (because you haven't been watching any games) that we have been giving up a lot of threes to opponents. Indiana set a school record of made threes against us. Then Northwestern hit 15 on us. The Spartans, well they are 4th in the conference in 3 pnt % and 5th in offensive eFG%. If they are getting wide open looks, it is going to be a long night for Gopher fans.