So the trip to Germany didn’t work out as well as we all had hoped, but basketball’s long season allows ample room for redemption and the Spartans have such an opportunity when they square off against the Jayhawks. I know, MSU didn’t look too impressive in the early stages against Connecticut, but they were able to right the ship to an extent and played much better defense as the game progressed. Regardless of the level of offensive skill some of the new faces on the squad may have, everything in Izzo’s system is predicated upon playing stalwart defense so that is where we need to see consistency emerge going forward. Get the stops, get some relatively easy transition buckets, repeat.
Spartans Need To Contain Withey( Photo: Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press / SA)
Kansas is last year’s second place finisher, and as such they are a daunting foe. They did lose some players from that squad though, and will need to rely on senior C Jeff Withey to help guide the team. This isn’t really a negative when you consider he is a talented 7 footer. Add freshman Perry Ellis into the frontcourt and you have a tandem that should really crash the boards for you and score the basketball. Kansas is also ridiculously deep at guard. Seniors Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford combine with sophomore Naadir Tharpe and dynamic freshman Ben Mclemore to present all sorts of matchup problems.The Jayhawks may be on the young side this year, but you know they won’t change their approach. They will pressure you on both ends of the floor.
Really Need A Big Game Out Of These Two(Kevin W. Fowler/For the Lansing State Journal)
As I mentioned earlier, the Spartans MUST play better defensively and especially so in the post. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne both played more or less terribly against Connecticut, often looking lethargic. This cannot happen against Kansas or it will be a very long night. Provided that one(or preferably both)of these guys can hold their own in the paint I feel as though the Spartans have a shot at this one. Branden Dawson is clearly ready to go, Gary Harris is possibly better than advertised, and I like the promise of Denzel Valentine. MSU has the athletes to run with Kansas and keep their backcourt from dominating so I have to believe this will come down to how well the bigs play. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt to sink some of those layups.
Prediction: MSU 67, Kansas 63. Yep, it’s never too early to drink the Kool-Aid.