Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
A pair of traditional powers close out their non-conference schedules in East Lansing, with a young Kansas (10-3) team hitting the road to take on #12 Michigan State (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten). Despite their youth the Jayhawks have been able to avoid the “sky is falling” year that many thought would come with last season’s mass exodus following the national title. Two contributors on last year’s title team, guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich, have led the kiddie corps to ten wins thus far. But they’ve only been on the road for a game at Arizona and things unraveled rather quickly in the second half after controlling the first stanza. Freshmen Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris have been next in line most nights when it’s come to the offensive end of the floor, and Taylor is also Bill Self’s best perimeter defender.
Unlike the young Jayhawks, who have only played one true road game, the Spartans have challenged themselves with the Old Spice Classic, North Carolina at Ford Field and Texas in Houston. The win over the Longhorns was huge for the Spartans, who also welcomed back forward Goran Suton in that 67-63 decision. Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas are the main men when it comes to scoring points for Tom Izzo’s team, but the presence of Suton can’t be overstated. While he was out there wasn’t a player on the block who could demand attention from opponents and thus free Morgan and Lucas to make plays. Now that he’s back, they’ve played much better on that end of the floor. Morgan, in fact, is one of the nation’s best when it comes to field goal percentage, shooting an outstanding 60.2% from the field.
So where will this game be won? Fitting for two coaches that demand toughness from their players, rebounding and hustle plays will determine the quality of Kansas’ trip north. Michigan State is one of the best teams in America when it comes to rebounding margin, and the Jayhawks aren’t anything to scoff at in that department either. Both teams also do a good job of distributing the basketball and taking care of it, although each team has had moments of carelessness. But the Spartans aren’t the ones who will have to deal with a raucous environment on the road. That task falls to the young Jayhawks, and their overall lack of experience leads me to believe that while competitive they won’t win this game.
Winner: Michigan State Margin: 5-9 pts.
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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