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Minnesota Basketball-Previewing Michigan State

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Minnesota plays its first conference game at home.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

After a convincing loss to Ohio State, Minnesota returns home to host Michigan State. The Gophers are 6-7 on the season and 0-1 in conference play. Michigan State is 13-1 on the season, with their only loss at Iowa. The Spartans will be without the services of Denzel Valentine.

Provide Me the Essentials to View this Game

Who are the Gophers Playing

Michigan State Spartans

What time are they playing

2pm CST

Where are they playing

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV

Yes. ESPN2 and ESPN3.

Can I listen to the game on the radio

Yes. 1500ESPN.

Tell me more about the Opponent

Despite the loss to Iowa, Michigan State is their usual incredible self. The Spartans were the number one team in the nation for four straight weeks before the Iowa game. Michigan State averages about 1.16 points per possession while surrendering only .92 points per possession. The Spartans have the third best adjusted defensive effective FG% in the nation. Teams have difficulty shooting the three or getting inside against the Spartans. About the only aspect of defense they do not do well is force turnovers.

On offense, Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris have picked up the slack after Valentine's injury. The Spartans also have size in the paint in Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis. Against most other opponents, Valentine's loss might be concerning. Against the Gophers, it is unlikely to matter.

Keys to the Game

  1. Make some shots. Absent a major event, the Gophers will open the season 0-2. Michigan State matches up far too well against the Gophers and is more talented at every position. Minnesota also has a problem simply making shots. In their last six games, the Gophers have shot worse than 40 percent from the floor five times. That's horrendous. Any starting key to the game requires Minnesota to make some shots.
  2. Jordan Murphy has to stay on the court. Consider the Ohio State game for evidence. Murphy's 4th foul was the point that Ohio State began a 20-3 run to put away the game. With most of the other offensive contributors struggling, Murphy has been a lone bright spot to the season. He will be tasked with guarding multiple positions, including the center if the Gophers play small.
  3. Maintain Defensive Intensity. Minnesota played fairly well on the defensive side of the court against Ohio State for 30 minutes. Sadly for the Gophers, a basketball game is 40 minutes long. Against a much better opponent, the Gophers will have to try to play solid defense for a full 40 minutes. Trite? Yes, but then again, when a team plays this poorly trite points take on importance. What does defensive intensity mean? In this case it simply means communicating and rotating with purpose. The Spartans will make great defensive teams pay for lapses in concentration, and the Gophers are not even a good defensive team yet. 

Predictions

  • Michigan State by 20, 75-55.
  • Stephon Sharp sees the floor.
  • The crowd is painfully empty.