During its first two NCAA Tournament victories this year, the Spartans didn't win with defense. MSU defeated LIU Brooklyn 89-67 (69 possessions) in the Round of 64 and St. Louis 65-61 (60 possessions) in the Round of 32.
***See the bottom of the post for a description of what these numbers mean***
The one thing that should alarm MSU fans is how Brandan Kearney hasn't been able to guard anybody - especially 3-point shooters.
On the bright side, Adreian Payne is playing as if every MSU opponent these days is Ohio State. Not only is Payne controlling the paint on the offensive end, but he's altering and blocking shots on the defensive end.
As the Spartans prepare for Louisville tonight, defense should be the No.1 focus. Louisville struggles to score, dropping on just 104.3 PPP on the season (111th nationally via KenPom). For reference, Long Island was at 107.2 (72nd) while St. Louis was 110.9 (36th). It will be key for the wings (Brandon Wood, Kearney, Thornton and Byrd) to rebound like crazy on the defensive end. Louisville's best offense tends to be the offensive rebound turned into a kick out 3-pointer.
Offensively, MSU should expect various zone defenses (mostly a 2-3 zone) throughout the game. Louisville might mix in some man when pressing, but the Spartans will have to make some outside shots to move on to the Elite Eight.
***Defensive Score Sheet Explanation***
There is an in-depth explanation in this post, but here is a cliff notes version:
- Min - Minutes played
- DREB - Defensive Rebounds
- FM - Forced field goal miss (includes blocks)
- FTO - Forced Turnover (steals, charges taken)
- FFTA - Forced missed Free Throw Attempt
- DFGM - Allowed Defensive Field Goal Made
- DFTM - Allowed Free Throw Made
- DRtg - Defensive Rating (Gives players credit for stops and scoring possessions)
*The DRtg is most important part of a defensive score sheet as it is the analog of an offensive rating. If a player was on the floor for 100 of his team's defensive possessions, theDRtgcalculates the number of points the opposition would score.