College Hoops Tuesday: Your Commentary

January 11th, 2011
Tuesday's marquee matchup takes place in the Big Ten with Michigan State (10-5) looking to rebound from their loss on Saturday at Penn State. The opponent is none other than Wisconsin (12-3), whose methodical style both limits mistakes on their end and frustrates opponents on the other. That has to be a concern for Tom Izzo's team as while they've improved of late in regards to taking care of the basketball the Spartans still average 15.1 turnovers per contest. Wisconsin on the other hand averages a paltry 8.1 turnovers, and while they don't force too many turnovers (11 tpg) the Badgers limit opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 45.1%. That's actually higher than what Michigan State allows (44.9%) but when taking into consideration that the Spartans also average around 11 more possessions per game, Wisconsin's number underlines the fact that you must be efficient in order to beat them.

The leaders offensively for Bo Ryan's team are forward Jon Leuer (19.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and point guard Jordan Taylor (16.4 ppg, 4.8 apg, 4.1 rpg), with both having the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. Leuer stands at 6'10" but while capable with his back to the basket can also step out to either knock down perimeter jumpers or penetrate. Taylor on the other hand has to rank among the top point guards in America due to his ability to properly balance the role of chief distributor with that of a primary scoring option. Which player is it more important for Michigan State to neutralize? The answer would have to be Taylor given the Spartans' inconsistency at the position throughout much of the season. Kalin Lucas (14.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Korie Lucious (7.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) are both excellent players in their own right, something they'll need to prove on the floor on a consistent basis if Michigan State is to contend for another Big Ten crown. Keaton Nankivil and Mike Bruesewitz will provide depth on the boards while Josh Gasser is another player they look to for solid minutes.

As for how Michigan State likely deals with Leuer that should produce an exciting matchup between him and Draymond Green. Green's been the equivalent to a tool box for Coach Izzo, providing whatever the team needs at any given point in a contest. Green averages 11.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game and it can be argued that he's been the closest thing the Spartans have to a coach on the floor. Michigan State can also look to leading scorer Durrell Summers, who's one of the tougher matchups in the Big Ten when he's clicking on all cylinders. In order to defend their home floor MSU has to look for opportunities in transition without forcing the issue. They have enough offensive talent to produce points if they have to play a half-court game (although it won't be their preference), and the closer their turnover count is to what Wisconsin opponents average than their own the better off Michigan State will be.

Three other ranked teams hit the road on Tuesday with the hope of avoiding what happened to six ranked teams who visited unranked squads on Saturday. The best chance for an upset out of those three games may be a tie between Texas Tech (hosting Texas) and Utah (hosting BYU) as both games have some added vitriol to fire up the home folks. There's also the matter of Florida and Tennessee meeting in Knoxville with the Volunteers hoping to bounce back from their loss at Arkansas in the first game of Bruce Pearl's eight-game suspension. Both teams have dealt with issues involving focus the last couple of seasons and the winner takes an early step towards controlling their own fate in the SEC East. And NC State visits Boston College in one of the many games that should ultimately give a concrete answer to the question of who's the second best team in the ACC.

Top 25
7:00 PM Rutgers at (9) Connecticut
7:00 PM Auburn at (15) Kentucky (ESPNU)
7:00 PM (14) Texas at Texas Tech (ESPN2)
8:30 PM (10) Brigham Young at Utah (The Mtn.)
7:00 PM (21) Wisconsin at (24) Michigan State (ESPN)
9:00 PM (16) Illinois at Penn State (BTN)

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Hartford at New Hampshire
7:00 PM Georgia Tech at Clemson
7:00 PM Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan
7:00 PM Manhattan at Florida Atlantic
7:00 PM Bowling Green at Kent State
7:05 PM Wilberforce at Youngstown State
8:00 PM SIU-Edwardsville at IPFW
9:00 PM North Carolina State at Boston College (ESPNU)
9:00 PM Oklahoma at Baylor (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Florida at Tennessee (ESPN)
10:00 PM Cal State Bakersfield at Pacific