Michigan State Preview
Date: Saturday, January 2nd
Time: 7:00pm CST
Location: Lincoln, NE
2019-20 Record: 22-9 (14-6 Big Ten Conference)
2020-21 Record: 6-3 (0-3 Big Ten Conference)
Coach: Tom Izzo (26th Season)
The Michigan State Spartans are the returning Big Ten regular season champs. They were a favorite to win the conference tournament and make a nice run in the NCAA Tournament until COVID-19 reared its ugly head and ended of last season.
Lucky for opposing teams, Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston are gone. Both of which were All Big Ten selections last year and gave opposing teams major issues throughout the season. However, like many Spartan teams, they return a very talented squad to play this year and were expected to challenge for the top of the conference once again this season.
The current season started of fairly well for the Spartans. They went 6-0 in the non conference with a nice win over Duke. They were expected to play a then #18 ranked Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge back on December 9th but that was cancelled due to a COVID outbreak.
Since then, Michigan State has struggled since starting conference play. They are currently 0-3 with losses to Northwestern, Wisconsin, & Minnesota. All currently top 25 ranked teams.
Izzo’s team has the talent and players, they just need to figure out their roles. They can shoot but not enough to win a game and their defense is still work in progress averaging 75.4 points given up a game so far this season.
The Spartans are lead by 6’9” forward Joey Hauser. Joey is a junior that is averaging 13.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He leads MSU in both scoring and rebounds. His size and ability to pull down in the paint along with knack for scoring will give Nebraska issues in the paint. It will be up to the Husker big men to keep him in check if they want in this game as the night goes on.
Next to Hauser is forward Aaron Henry. This 6’6” forward averages 11.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. He comes of the bench and is yet one of the Spartans more productive players. Showing that this team is still figuring out what it its.
Also of note is the nicely named Rocket Watts. This sophomore guard is averaging 9.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. He was first team all Big Ten freshman last season.
The Spartans have had a very rough three game losing skid to start off Big Ten play. Face value, this is a rare Izzo team that is still trying to figure things out. Hopefully the Huskers can take advantage and get their first Big Ten win of the season on Saturday.