Just got done watching OSU pull out a tough OT win in Lincoln. Some early thoughts on Tuesday night’s game in Columbus.
– OSU does only one thing well…defend. Their length makes them tough, both inside (second in the conference in blocked shots as a team) and out. They’re not HUGE huge like Purdue, but they have good size 1-5. Lyle at about 6’5″ at the point, and then a bunch of guys ranging from 6’4″ (Tate) to 6’8″ (Bates-Diop) make passes tough.
– OSU occasionally busts some trapping pressure out. I would expect they may try that a little more often against MSU, in part to try to generate some easy offense via turnovers and in part to wear down Zel.
– They do nothing else well. I mean nothing. They don’t shoot well (Kam Williams is the only guy getting significant minutes who’s above 35% from three), they turn it over excessively and despite their size, they’re not a great rebounding team (they gave up 18 offensive boards to Nebraska tonight and they’re not all that strong on that end on the season).
– Offensively, as the season has progressed they’ve gone to an offensive approach which relies heavily on penetration. They’re not good from the line (66%) but it’s a better bet than trying to run regular offense to get a look. The lack of a real point guard has hindered this team all year, but at least with Lyle now looking to get to the rim rather than just jacking threes, the Bucks have a chance of occasionally putting points on the board.
Because of that, it’ll be key for MSU to limit penetration and force the Bucks to shoot jumpers. I’ll reduce a complicated game to one simple thing: if OSU has to shoot a lot of jumpers and doesn’t get to the line for at least 25 FTA, MSU wins in a walk. I mean an easy, double digit walk.
– As I’ve mentioned before, I think Value City is one of the weaker home court environments in the conference. MSU is 5-5 over their last 10 games there, so this has not been a house of horrors in any particular way. The flipside is that OSU has won the games they needed to in order to give themselves a longshot at a Tournament bid. So, the motivation should clearly be there for the Bucks.
This has been a really, really good series over the past decade. MSU/OSU games often go down to the wire and they’re generally hotly contested, physical affairs. The latter part may be the case in this game, but I don’t think this one is close in the end. OSU’s only chance is to make this a hideously ugly game and I don’t think this MSU team will allow for that, not at the level required for the Bucks to win.