Michigan State Preview
Date: February 2nd - 6:00pm - Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, NE
2015-16 Record: 29-6 (13-5 Big Ten)
2016-17 Record: 13-9 (5-4 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Tom Izzo (22nd year)
Michigan State is having a bit of a down year.
Well, for Michigan State that is. They are currently 5-4 in conference play which currently puts them in 5th place in the Big Ten behind Maryland, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Purdue.
Then again, you might have some adjusting when you lose five of your top six scorers due to the draft, graduation, and transferring. None the less, the Spartans still have a good team that could still take the top of the conference when all is said and done.
The non conference was a mixed bag for the Spartans. Not being a team that is afraid of competition they faced four top 25 teams, and lost to all. They stared off the year ranked #12 in the nation before having back to back losses to Arizona and Kentucky. The Arizona loss went down to the wire but they were soundly beat by Kentucky in a game they were never really in and losing 69 to 48.
Losses then came to top 25 players Baylor and Duke that finally made the Spartans fall out of the rankings. Their one quality win during the non conference was a 77-72 win over Wichita State. In a nutshell, the beat almost everyone who wasn’t ranked, and lost to everyone that was.
Conference has been just a tad bit better for Izzo’s squad. They started the season with wins over Minnesota, Northwester, and Rutgers before getting beat by Penn State and avenging then their loss to Minnesota. They then went off on a three game losing streak before beating their in state rival Michigan at home on January 29th.
Leading this years squad is guard Miles Bridges. The Freshman is averaging 16.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 2.0 rpg. This is with missing 8 games due to a high ankle sprain. Though it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down. He has already been named Big Ten freshman of the week four times this season and twice in as many weeks. The last one coming of this recent win against Michigan. Expect him to give the Huskers fits from beyond the arch if he is allowed to get hot early on.
Next to Miles is another freshman Nick Ward. The 6’8” forward is averaging 13.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg. He has bounced back and fourth through the year either holding the position or dominating the court. He could be a threat in Lincoln but Nebraska’s defense could very easily shut this young player down early. He seems to still be learning the system and it shows from time to time.
Eron Harris comes in as a second year transfer from West Virginia. He has come on strong his final year with 12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 1.6 rpg. Not quite what he was putting up as a Mountaineer but not too bad either. His point totals have been across the board all season but could be a problem for Nebraska if he gets the chance.
Overall, Michigan State is in a bit of a rebuilding year. Luckily, the Big Ten is giving them the chance to have one and still be a fairly decent team in the conference. The game against the Huskers could really go either way. If the Huskers play together as a team, they could very easily give Miles another win again a team that he has had very good luck against.