Portland Pilots (1-1) at #1 Michigan State (3-0)
Tip at 4:00 PM PST from The Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, Michigan
TV: Big 10 Network
Radio: 910 AM and PortlandPilots.com
Projected Starting Lineups:
C-Thomas van der Mars
When Portland released it’s non-conference schedule, seeing a trip to East Lansing to take on Tom Izzo and Michigan State was the game that really stuck out. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering that over the past few seasons, Portland has sought out top teams including Kentucky, UNLV, and New Mexico. There’s a great piece by the Jim Beseda that discusses the “Art” of scheduling and explains why Portland has scheduled the way they have during the Reveno era. It also expands on the lessons that have been learned when it comes to scheduling and despite this trip to the “IZZONE” the schedule is much more balanced as this venture is by far the most difficult the Pilots will have to endure in the non-conference schedule.
Michigan State is coming off a huge win over then #1 Kentucky, and a nice win over a Columbia team that Portland will host on Friday. Michigan State is one of the most unselfish teams in the country averaging 21.7 assists per game and a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. Of the 92 field goals the Spartans have made this season, 65 came from an assist. There really isn’t a weak link on this team and that is what makes them so good.
Keys for the Pilots:
Portland on the other hand is coming off a disappointing 79-73 loss to in-state rival Oregon State. Portland was trailing nearly the entire game and had the game tied at 59 a piece before a few costly turnovers doomed Portland down the stretch. If the Pilots want to compete tonight against Gary Harris and company, they will need to take care of the ball. Let’s be honest though, for Portland to really challenge Michigan State there are a lot of things that need to go right. Portland needs to box out and rebound, second chance points are killer and could put the game out of reach early if Michigan State controls the offensive glass. Portland also needs to shoot better than they did in Corvallis. Lastly the Pilots need to stay out of foul trouble which can be difficult to do on the road, in a hostile environment, against an athletic team like Michigan State. Overall the Pilots have a lot of work cut out for them, and need to keep the game close if they want a chance in the end.
Kevin Bailey vs. Michigan State Defense: After a really impressive first outing against UC Davis where Bailey scored 29 points on 10-17 shooting, he regressed scoring 12 points on 4-10 shooting against Oregon State. For Portland to stay in this game Bailey really needs to step up and be the go-to guy that Portland needs him to be. When he plays smart and in control, the Pilots are a much better team.
Which Pilot will take advantage of the stage and thrive against the #1 team in the country?
Can Voldy Gerun build off of a nice offensive performance against Oregon State?
How many times will the IZZONE trick the Pilots into a shot clock violation? After an impressive performance by the students against Columbia can they repeat, or will Portland figure out their tricks?