Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Iowa vs Michigan State Men's Basketball Preview

Everybody knows something is going on up at Michigan State. They've already lost four conference games to Penn State, Illinois, Purdue, and in-state rival Michigan. Not to mention, they just went into overtime with an Indiana team missing some key players. Finally, another blow for them, was Junior guard Korie Lucious recently being dismissed from the team. Will this one be the game where Iowa finally pulls off a Big 10 upset? Or will this be another blowout where Iowa is run out of the gym? Let's try to figure that out.

Iowa Offense vs Michigan State Defense

Let's start with shooting. Iowa is the worst shooting team in the Big 10, overall (10th place if you look at conference games only), shooting a 48.66% effective FG%. Michigan State has only been 2% above NCAA average at contesting opponents shots this year, allowing opponents to shoot 48%. In conference play though, the Spartans have allowed Big 10 opponents to shoot a 51.9% effective FG%. Hopefully that means good news for Iowa.

Michigan State has been 6% above average at grabbing defensive rebounds this year. Iowa has been horrible at rebounding in conference play, and I would expect it to continue. Michigan State has four players, who play pretty regularly, that grab at least 16% of all defensive rebounds while they are on the court. Also, don't expect Iowa to get to the free throw line that much.

The only things Michigan State has been below average at, has been at limiting assists and causing turnovers. The assists, I would imagine, have come because of their increased inability at stopping their Big 10 opponents from shooting well (and scoring, as MSU has been outscored in points per possession, 1.05 to 1.06 in Big 10 play). The turnovers have been a problem all season for Michigan State. They were about average in non-conference play, but since Big 10 play has started, they have dropped all the way to 4% below average, overall. This would seem to be another game where Iowa has a chance to lower their turnover rate.

Michigan State Offense vs Iowa Defense

Iowa has been 3% below average at contesting opponents shots this year, but holy hell, have they been horrible at it in conference play. Let's run down every Big 10 opponent's effective FG% shall we? 80.21%, 61.61%, 55.74%, 64.52%, 45.65%, 52.73%, 42.86%, 58.51%, and 71.43%. Yeah. Those average out to a 58.8% effective FG%. Good for last in the Big 10. Interestingly enough, Michigan State is only 3% above NCAA average in shooting this year, with a 50.45% effective FG%. They've been a little worse in Big 10 play, shooting 48.1%, but every team seems to be shooting way above average against Iowa lately. So, add about 10% to that total and that's probably what will happen.

Offensive Rebounding has been a strength for Michigan State this year, as they have been 9% above average in this category. Overall, Iowa has been 4% above average in defensive rebounding this year, but they have fallen off a cliff in conference play. In non-conference play they were pulling down 72.64% of all defensive rebounds. Since the Big 10 schedule has kicked off, Iowa has only pulled down 62.03%. Michigan State will probably win the rebounding battle pretty easily.

Don't expect a lot of free throws, as Michigan State doesn't get there very often, and Iowa doesn't put people there very often. If Michigan State shoots as well as every other Big 10 team against he Hawkeyes, expect that assist rate to remain large for the Spartans. The turnovers could go either way. Iowa has been legitimately good at forcing them, and Sparty has been just a bit above average at limiting them.

  • Iowa player shooting tendencies:
  • Iowa player scoring breakdown:
  • Iowa player points per minute:
  • Michigan State player shooting tendencies:
  • Their speedy point guard, Kalin Lucas, not surprisingly, takes most of his shots inside of the three point line. Their long guard, Durrell Summers, is about 50/50 on where he shoots from, favoring the two point shot just slightly. Their versatile forward, Draymond Green, does most of his work inside the arc, but is not afraid to shoot it from outside.
  • Michigan State player scoring breakdown:
  • Lucas and Green look to get about half of their value from two point shots, and then about 25% a piece from three pointers and free throws. Summers gets a gigantic amount of his value from his three point shooting. Even though Lucious is gone, I kept him in these two graphs to show what Michigan State was missing. His game was clearly centered around shooting the three (even though he only made 28.4% of them this year). Now Appling, who is of a similar profile (but is shooting 41% from three point range), will be picking up more of the playing time left behind by Lucious.
  • Michigan State player points per minute:
  • You can see why I made sure to mention Lucas, Summers, and Green above. They are on another level for this Michigan State team. They have three players putting the ball in the basket at a better or equal to rate as Iowa's best scorer. After that, there is a sharp drop off. But, those three easily have enough fire power to down Iowa by themselves. 
  • Iowa has taken 78.01% of their shots from two point range, and 21.99% from three point range. 56.7% of their points have come from two point field goals, 24% from three point field goals, and 19.4% from free throws. 
  • Michigan State has taken 71.64% of their shots from two point range, and 28.36% from three point range. 50.5% of their points have come from two point field goals, 30% from three point field goals, and 19.5% from free throws. 
Opposing Players to Watch
  • Kalin Lucas is the top scorer on the team, averaging 15.57 points per game. He is not the most efficient scorer (especially for a guy who takes most of his shots from inside the three point line), shooting a 48.8% effective FG%. He has made 44.97% of his two point shots this year, and 39.4% of his three point attempts. He is okay at dishing the ball to his teammates, but he is second on the team to Draymond Green in assist rate (third if you count the now-exiled Lucious). Overall, he is pretty much a scorer.
  • Durrell Summers is the second leading scorer, averaging 14.05 points per game on a 51.7% effective FG%. He is a decent defensive rebounder for a guard, grabbing 11.5% of all defensive boards while on the court. However, he is mainly a scorer, and is shooting 39.7% from downtown. 
  • Draymond Green is the third leading scorer, at 13.29 points per game, but he is a jack of all trades. Listed at 6'6" or 6'7" (depending on which website I'm using) 230 lbs, he does a little bit of everything. He has a 52.1% effective FG% and is shooting 42.4% from three point range. He is also a beast on the glass. He grabs 10.3% of all offensive rebounds and 22.7% of all defensive rebounds available while he is in the game. Did I mention he can pass the ball? He has the highest assist rate on the team (now that Lucious is gone), coming in at 29.5%. For comparisons sake, Cartwright sits at 36.1%, which is third in the Big 10. The difference is, Cartwright runs the entire offense, Green is about the size of Basabe. 
  • I mentioned above that Michigan State has four legitimate rebounders (Green, Nix, Payne, and Roe). But, Adreian Payne is a guy to watch when he is in the game. So far this year, he has only averaged about 8 minutes a game, but the 6'10" freshman looks like he has a bright future. Right now he averages around 2 points per game on a 51.3% effective FG%. However, he has come down with 14% of all offensive rebounds and 17.4% of all defensive rebounds while he has been on the court. He has also been their best shot blocker, rejecting 10% of opponents field goals attempted while he has been on the court. Look out for him in the future.

Michigan State has had their problems in conference play so far this season, but I'm not sure Iowa will be able to add to their pain. It helps that Iowa is playing at home, considering they have been horrible on the road. But, Michigan State's big three has some serious firepower. Iowa has some good players, but they can't seem to get a game where their best four offensive players click. One game Basabe will dominate the paint, the next game Gatens will get hot from three point range, the next game Cartwright will put up a lot of shots and actually get more than 11 points, and once every five games May will get to double-digits. The game where Iowa gets even three of these four going, could be the game where they pull off a big conference upset.

Looking at this game, Cartwright will have his hands full defensively, trying to guard Kalin Lucas. Knowing how frustrating Cartwright's defense has been at times this year, this could get ugly. Hopefully, Cartwright will make up for this on the offensive side of the ball (another 0 turnover game wouldn't hurt!). Gatens needs to show up this game. He had 11 points vs Michigan, but he seemed to disappear most of the time. Hopefully his three point shot is falling tonight. Who knows what to expect from May? I sure as hell don't. Ever since the December slump and then the groin injury in January, he has been pretty much non-existent. Please come back Eric May. Hawkeye nation misses you. As for Basabe, I would imagine he gets to guard Draymond Green. This will be a battle worth watching. Offensively, both guys can put the ball in the basket. Also, Green can pull Basabe away from the basket on defense and force him to guard the perimeter, since he is a threat to shoot the three. The rebounding battle will also be entertaining. Both grab more than 10% offensive and 21% defensive rebounds. This should be a great match up.

This will be a faster paced game compared to the last two games Iowa has played. We'll see if Iowa can match the firepower of Michigan State's big three, but I'm guessing that's a negative. Iowa will need a big game from everybody, and so far they haven't proven they can do that yet. I'm guessing Iowa loses something like 79-68. In about 69 possessions that would be Iowa scoring a little less than 1 point per possession and Michigan State scoring about 1.14 points per possession. As usual, I'm still waiting for that upset, Iowa. I'm not asking for much. Just give me that one upset. I need that sliver of hope to hold onto when this season comes to an end in a month. And, Michigan State would be just that.

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