Preview: Ohio State at #12 Michigan State

By Corey Carpenter on January 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm
tom-izzo-in-70's-outfitIzzo and MSU are groovy. (Al Goldis:AP)
Ohio State Buckeyes
#23 Ohio State
10-2, 1-1 Big Ten
Roster | Schedule

7:00 PM ET - ESPN2
Breslin Center
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State Spartans
#15 Michigan State
11-2, 2-0 Big Ten
Roster | Schedule

Wipe the crust out of your eyes and shake off that hangover, now that football is over, we can all turn our heads towards hoops and cheer for a return to the tourney.

The B10 scheduling gods were not kind to Thad and his young squad this year, forcing them to play 4 of their first 5 on the road, against teams that have lost a combined 8 games.

The Spartans haven't played a game at the IZ-Zone driven Breslin Center since Dec. 17th and as usual they are a deep veteran squad. This game has a chance to resemble the West Virginia debacle for OSU if they can't match MSU's physical tenacity.

The Buckeyes have had success in East Lansing lately, winning 2 of the last 3, but with the recent unexpected changes and inconsistent play, leaving there with a win will require a perfect game, or one hell of a debut from Nikola Kecman.

2 Jeremie Simmons 7.0 2.3 2.4 G 1 Kalin Lucas 12.8 1.7 6.3
33 Jon Diebler 11.8 3.4 2.0 G 5 Travis Walton 6.4 2.6 3.1
21 Evan Turner 16.2 7.1 2.6 F 2 Raymar Morgan 15.4 6.8 1.5
44 William Buford 8.3 3.4 0.6 F 14 Goran Suton 9.7 6.4 1.0
52 Dallas Lauderdale 6.9 4.9 0.2 C 0 Idong Ibok 0.7 1.1 0.3


Michigan State leads the conference in scoring at 78.6 points and shooting at 48.1 percent, but surprisingly rank 10th in scoring defense at 67.1 a game. The Spartans offense is completely different from the Bucks, as Izzo's crew actually looks to screen, move the ball, move without the ball, use post entry passes and look for good 2 point shots. They have attempted the least amount of three's in the B10, but the most FT's and their 18.8 assists per game rank 6th nationally.

Izzo loves to sub early and often, taking advantage of his depth by rotating 11 guys into the lineup, including 5 players 6'8" or taller. He has the luxury of starting 3 seniors, a junior and a sophomore, then brings in super sophs. Durrell Summers and Chris Allen, to go along with freshman stud Delvon Roe. Those three account for 25 points and 11 boards a game.

Even though the Spartans have allowed more points than usual on D, they still have outrebounded their opposition by almost 10 a game, while allowing just 12 assists. It is a tested bunch, gaining wins over Oklahoma State, Texas, Wichita State, Bradley and Minnesota, while losing to Maryland and UNC.

Buckeye Breakdown:

This team is in a funk and a trip to East Lansing isn't going to solve it. I don't know what kind of boost Nikola Kecman will give the Bucks, but at least it gives Thad one more option on offense. However, the last thing OSU needs is another player who is going to stand around the perimeter.

The overall lack of movement, screening and post entry passes is becoming maddening. I learned at an early age, that once you pass the ball, you look to make some kind of cut or look to screen someone. It baffles me how OSU makes a pass on the perimeter and then stands there and watches. When they do attempt to screen, they are essentially switching spots on the floor. No one looks to set up their defender for the oncoming screen, nor do they wait for the screen to be set. BTW, where was the high screen for the Bucks pseudo-PG's on Saturday? It is not illegal to screen even when facing a zone defense.

I am not going to get into it again, but if OSU does not learn how to get their big men involved in the offense it is going to be an ugly conference season. Both the post players and the wings are to blame for the lack of inside success thus far.

Luckily Michigan State doesn't hoist a bunch of three pointers, but they move the ball well, so a tightening up of rotation within the zone is a key to this game. I didn't expect the defense to continue the early season pace, due to inexperience, but with the loss of Lighty, it has added to the troubles.

Thankfully, the Buckeyes have had a couple of bright spots the last few games, in Turner and Diebler. Turner has struggled from the field, but has continued his all-conference play with 32 points, 13 boards and (gulp) only 1 TO. Diebler has connected on 12 of 21 bombs in conference play, leading to 42 points, 9 rebounds, 8 steals and 6 assists. After four straight in double digits, Buford took a step back in Minnesota, going for just 6 points on 1 of 6 shooting.


  • Michigan State leads the series 56-48, but OSU has won 4 of the last 6.
  • The Buckeyes fell from the top 25 this week, but still sit at 30th.
  • OSU has 138 assists vs. 148 turnovers on the season.