Franimal Planet: Iowa vs. Michigan State Preview

USA TODAY Sports

The Hawkeyes try to break a two-game losing skid at home against Michigan State. No, it does not get any easier.

Iowa (11-4) vs. Michigan State (12-3)

Date: January 10, 2013
Time: 6:00 pm CT
Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
Television: ESPN2
Line: Michigan State -2

After suffering a Sunday beatdown in Ann Arbor, Iowa returns home to host the Michigan State Spartans. Iowa has lost three of its four games against Sparty since McCaffery took over as head coach and eight of the last nine contests overall. Sparty is ranked 16th by Pomeroy, with wins over Kansas, Texas and Purdue, and losses to UConn, Miami, and Minnesota.

Tom Izzo's squad does what most Tom Izzo squads do: they shoot at a high effective percentage, they prevent their opponents from doing the same, they are foul-prone, and they rebound better than almost everyone. On offense, Sparty is shooting 52.4 percent on two-point field goals and getting 60.1 percent of their points on two-pointers, both among the nation's highest percentages. They don't take many outside shots, and they don't make many when they do. Michigan State is extremely turnover-prone, giving the ball away on 22.4 percent of possessions and ranking in the nation's ten worst teams in steals allowed.

Junior guard Keith Appling leads a diverse Spartan attack, leading the team with 14.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. Freshman guard Gary Harris adds 13.1 points. The Spartan front line -- Derrick Nix, Brandon Dawson, and Adreian Payne off the bench -- combine for 27 points and 21 rebounds per game. Izzo goes 8-9 players deep, spreading slashers around the perimeter and leaving Nix and Payne as the centerpieces to hold the paint.

Michigan State's defense is typical Izzo: 16th nationally in defensive efficiency, 16th in effective field goal percentage allowed, near the top in steals. They commit a fair amount of fouls, but they foul the right guys; opponents are shooting just 65.1 percent from the charity stripe. They have no apparent defensive weakness, though the lack of an interior presence beyond Nix and Payne leaves them susceptible to a barrage of bigs.

There is no real thread between Michigan State's three losses. The Spartans dominated the glass but shot a horrific 37.5 percent from the field (and just 4/17 from three) in their season-opening loss to UConn, a likely byproduct of first-game rust and the fact that they were playing in Germany. Michigan State actually dominated the stat sheet against Miami, but the Hurricanes made 16/18 free throws and 9/16 from beyond the arc. Minnesota was terrible at the free throw line, but shot 56.6 percent from the field and outrebounded the Spartans 38-24 in their win two weeks ago. If there is a common bond between those three games, it's that Nix and Payne weren't serious factors. Nix is averaging just 6.7 points per game in MSU losses, Payne just 5.3 points per contest. If Melsahn Basabe is healthy and Adam Woodbury can keep himself out of foul trouble, Iowa has the size to make life difficult for the Michigan frontcourt.

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