The Spartans didn't defend well on the perimeter on Tuesday, as Carolina shot 50 percent from long distance, and its previously shaky floor generals, sophomore
The Spartans did flash some defensive ability against Gonzaga on Nov. 17, and Izzo's teams have a tendency to improve deeper into the season. So all is not lost. But these three things worry me at present:
• When State lost to Florida, 77-74 on Nov. 27 in the Legends Classic, the Gators' offense was allowed to be more efficient (at 1.073 points per possession) that it was against Stetson (1.033) or Georgia Southern (1.040).
• The Spartans allowed 1.14 points per possession to the Tar Heels on Tuesday -- the exact same amount the '08-09 State team allowed to a far superior UNC club in the national title game in Detroit. The ultra- efficient foursome of
• State came into Tuesday's game ranked 90th in kenpom.com's adjusted
Against Michigan State, Strickland looked confident and energized, scoring nine points and dishing out three assists -- against zero turnovers -- in 14 productive minutes. The three-pointer he hit at the first-half buzzer gave Carolina a 16-point lead going into the break, and dampened any realistic hopes of a Spartans comeback. If Strickland can merely take care of the ball and shoot a high-30s percentage on 3s, he'll make UNC's offense even more dangerous.
On Tuesday it was nice to see the Heels running again, getting into a near-90-point affair with the Spartans, who are usually more than willing to accelerate when playing outside the plodding Big Ten. Bbstate.com listed the game at a
The excitement of that play, apparently, allowed the game to transcend normal spatial constraints and exist in Chapel Hill, Indy and Louisville at the same time.
Over the past few years, this has degenerated from a "challenge" into three-day opportunity for fans on either coast to pick on the Big Ten. But wins by Penn State, Northwestern and Purdue have put the event at a 3-3 draw heading into its final day, which features Duke at Wisconsin, Illinois at Clemson, Florida State at Ohio State, Boston College at Michigan, and Minnesota at Miami.
We're likely to see two more ACC wins, from Duke and Clemson, and one more Big Ten win, from Michigan, but Seminoles-Buckeyes and Gophers-'Canes are toss-ups. Can size-challenged OSU handle