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GameDay Open Thread NCAA Midwest Regional 2nd Round - USC vs. Michigan State

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AP Photo/Jim Mone via the L.A. Daily News

I am on the road back from DC today so I won't be able to do a decent preview of Michigan St.

This one is going to be tough.

MSU is pretty good team, though I am not sure they are the best #2 seed. This is a quasi-home game for the Spartans so you never know.

This a great rebounding team...they are tought to beat on the glass so Taj is going to have his work cut out for him. As noted in the Fan Post's some on MSU might be taking SC lightly...that would be a mistake. SC can play a tough physical game but depth is going to be the issue, as MSU has a little more than SC and that can be the difference.

Keys to the game...

- - - SC needs to be careful with the fouls...a lack of depth hurts us a bit there don't be surprised if we get into foul trouble.

- - - Turnovers need to be minimized because this MSU team will take advantage of them.

- - - Rebounds...SC needs to pound the glass hard and not just stand around. If they miss the rebound they need to get back on defense fast because...

- - - ...They need to be wary of MSU running the fast break. These guys like to run so SC needs to be wary of MSU's transition game.

I like that SC has the desire to keep it going but MSU's depth concerns me. MSU Coach Tom Izzo has built a team that knows how to handle adversity in the tough times and a program that is in the top tier in Division 1. Yes, SC can win this game. The pundits are pretty much split on who pulls it out today but make no mistake no matter how this turns out it could be a real battle out there.

I will be back in time for tip off.

Leave your comments and rants here...

FIGHT ON!

Laughing Stock Edit: Man is it ever nice to finally be back in LA. Anyways, here is a quick preview of Michigan State.

Key Players: Kalin Lucas - PG (Offensive Rating: 110.8, 14.7 PPG, 4.4 APG), Raymar Morgan (ORating: 107.4, 11.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG), Goran Suton (ORating: 118.3, 9.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG)

I was in the stands for the first half of the Robert Morris - MSU game, and the Spartans looked very good. The play on the opening tip was one of the more impressive thiongs I had seen in a while; Goran Suton tipped the ball to one of the guards in front of them who then alley ooped it to Raymar Morgan (I believe). Everyone in attendance OOO'ed or AHH'ed unconsciously, and even though RM kept it close late into the opening half (34-30 with only 3:30 left in the first), the Spartans closed the period with a dominating run to go into the locker room up by 11 points.

But that was then, and this is now. Like Paragon said, MSU likes to run out quick and try to score in transition, but as long as SC gets back quickly on defense I really don't think this will be much of a problem as the Spartans are a half court set team at heart (evidenced by the fact that they only use, on average, about 3 more possesions per game than the relatively slow paced Trojans). This definitely plays to SC's favor as it all starts with defense for Tim Floyd. Michigan St. is also over seeded, they are probably the worst of the two seeds (although a weak argument can be made for OU), and they have a couple of very lop sided losses on their resume which makes them look a lot more mortal.

All in all, SC matches up very well talent wise and I think we have a major advantage in overall team size and in the Gibson-Suton Matchup. The most important factor, in my opinion, that will decide this game is how both teams handle substitutions. The Trojan's top players are used to playing entire games, but they also may not have the legs to run the whole game against Izzo's sub happy style. Conversely, SC may be able to go without the bench for the whole game without suffering while substitutions may lead to offensive inconsistency or force the Spartans to play their top players longer than they are used to. Stylistically the teams are also similar and if the Trojans play like they have lately then I like their chances to win. Regardless of my beliefs though, even the more advanced metrics are predicting a close game (Pomeroy has Sparty winning 66-63 with a 60% likelihood of victory), and I doubt either team is able to run away with this one. Here's to another trip to the Sweet 16!