|Pos.||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||Team||Pos.|
|PG||Nate Mason||12.5||4.1||Lourawls Nairn Jr.||PG|
|G||Dupree McBrayer||4.0||9.4||Eron Harris||G|
|F||Carlos Morris||11.4||13.4||Bryn Forbes||G|
|F||Joey King||13.8||4.5||Marvin Clark Jr.||F|
|C||Bakary Konate||4.7||8.3||Matt Costello||F|
|Bench||Kevin Dorsey||7.4||3.2||Alvin Ellis III||Bench|
|Bench||Jordan Murphy||10.8||5.3||Javon Bess||Bench|
|Bench||Charles Buggs||8.7||3.2||Matt McQuaid||Bench|
Fortunately Denzel Valentine is out for this game and that makes #1 Michigan at least a little more vulnerable. The Spartans play a lot of guys so listing just 8 is gonna be missing a few. Against Iowa they played 11 guys with double-digit minutes.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Execute Late in Shot-Clock - Michigan State is just really good defensively. With the way we operate our offense and knowing how the Spartans play defense, I expect to see a lot of isolation or one-on-one late in the shot clock. If we are able to make some plays for baskets and get some offensive confidence, we can stay in this. We will move the ball around the perimeter and MSU will be happy to allow that, then someone is going to have to make a play as the shot-clock gets to single-digits.
Defend Perimeter - With no Valentine the scoring load rests on Eron Harris and Bryn Forbes. We have to find a way to defend those two. Others will score, but those are the two who can carry the Spartans. Excited to see McBrayer matched up on one of these guys and see how he responds to the challenge.
Stay Out of Interior Foul Trouble - I foresee Izzo realizing he has a significant advantage in the paint. Watch for Costello to be fed the ball in the post and hopefully our bigs don't get into foul trouble. I bet they work inside then out if we can't slow him down.
A conference home game and KenPom gives us a 15% chance to win! YIKES! As I said, things should be a little closer with Valentine not playing but Michigan State is very good, well-coached and they should be heavily favored. I wish I had a rosier outlook but with the way they consistently execute on both ends of the floor I don't see how the Gophers pull this one out.