Previewing the Tourney

3/16/2010 1:54:01 PM Okay, so it took me a few days to get my thoughts together after everyone here in Michigan has been starting to talk their trash about a possible Terps-Spartans matchup in Round 2. I've been offered a ton of bets from a ton of people, but I refused to think about making any wagers with any Spartan faithful until the game is set. I am not looking past Houston and I think the Michigan State fans should not look past New Mexico State.

Now, I don't know much about Houston other than what I've read the past couple of days. Yes, they play a fast paced game and have the country's leading scorer. They shoot a lot of 3's and don't rebound well. Sounds good to me. I do have an issue with the ESPN crew saying the game could be in the 100's. Have they looked at the Terps defensive numbers?? We do play very good halfcourt defense and we will need it since, we are unlikely to have a lot of success pressing Houston fullcourt. If we win the rebounding battle and hit some shots, we should not have a problem, but 3-pointers are an equalizer and if they shoot the lights out, we'll have a game on our hands.

Tom Penders may know Gary Williams and his style, but Gary knows Tom too, so I don't think that will make much of a difference. As always when I'm in Vegas and people ask me about the Terps and the first round, I always tell them that Maryland will almost always win, but rarely cover. A win is all that matters.

Moving on.... if we end up facing Michigan State, that's where I feel like I know what I'm talking about. I have watched probably 90% of their games in the past 10 years working in the sports field in Michigan. There is no doubt they are a very good team led by a future hall of fame coach. They play a solid defensive game and they rebound very well for a team that is not overwhelmingly tall. We will need to battle them on the glass to win, but I think that we can hold our own against them thanks to the experience of playing against the huge front lines in the ACC.

Their front line is not that tall. In fact, the tallest guy that gets legitimate minutes is 6'8''. Derrick Nix and Draymond Green are their inside guys and Green is a handful who can also step out and hit shots. Nix averages only 2 points and 2 rebounds a game and is horrid at the free throw line. Raymar Morgan is a great defender and tough cover for any of our players, but he is very streaky. He can score 20 or 6 depending on the night. Delvon Roe is a good player at 6'8'', 230, but he has been banged up all year and is not 100%.

The key to MSU is their guard play. Kalin Lucas won the Big Ten player of the year award in 2009, but had injury issues and has not played to the level he did a year ago. Durrell Summers has also struggled at times and was benched during the end of their Big Ten Tournament loss against Minnesota. Chris Allen, who leads the team in 3-point shooting didn't play in that Minnesota game after being suspended for missing a practice. Needless to say, these 3 players along with a good bench guard in Korie Lucious, have the ability to light it up and knock us right out of the tournament, but they could also implode, putting us in great shape. We just have to hope that they all don't decide to put it together for an NCAA run. I doubt you'll see the Spartans that made the final game last year, but they are good enough to beat us and give Kansas a good game if they come together. If I had to guess, I'd say they won't put it all together and we will have a great chance to win, but I never put anything past Tom Izzo, who is probably the best coach in the country.

The Spartans do play great defense and I know this after watching game after game of brutal Big Ten basketball where the halftime scores are often 24-20. We have the offense that can beat them if we take advantage of Jordan Williams' height advantage over their starters and if we hit those midrange shots. That will come down to Milbourne and Mosley. Our role players will carry the day if we win.

I will do my best to comment as we get closer to Friday, though I leave for Las Vegas on Thursday morning (with a bunch of Spartan fans)... I can't wait!!
blog comments powered by Disqus