Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-0 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 2 Michigan State Spartans (1-0 0-0 ATS) Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, MI 8 PM EST Tuesday, November 17, 2009 on ESPN
by Jason Green at Predictem.com

Point Spread: Bulldogs +11 / Spartans -11
Over/Under: TBA

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Tonight in the first real game for both teams the 2nd ranked Michigan State Spartans host the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Even though both teams are 1-0 they each played a non-D1 team in their 1st game. Gonzaga lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament last season and this season they have a lot of new faces with 7 new players and 3 redshirt players. The Zags play in a pretty weak conference in the West Coast Conference, but their out of conference schedule is killer. Besides facing #2 Michigan State the Zags will face either Wisconsin or Arizona in the Maui Classic next week and then #9 Duke, #17 Oklahoma State, and #23 Illinois before they begin conference play. The Spartans were banged up to start the season, but Chris Allen, Raymar Morgan, and Delvon Roe should be healthy for this game.

In their opening game against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles the Spartans easily won the game 97-58. The high scorer for MSU in that game was Kalin Lucas going for 21 points on 5/9 shooting. For the game the Spartans shot 33/71 for a FG% of 46.5%. On defense the Spartans held the Eagles to only 21/57 from the floor for a FG% of 36.8%.

In Gonzaga’s opening game they beat the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils 92-74 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Zags in the game was Matt Bouldin going for 22 points on 7/13 shooting. For the game the Zags shot lights out going 30/54 from the floor for a scorching FG% of 55.6%. On D the Zags held the Delta Devils to 26/62 shooting for a FG% of 41.9%.

Even though the Zags are not ranked and they have many new faces they are no strangers to playing in big games against legit teams, as they have played in the NCAA tournament 11 years in a row.

The only returning starter for the Zags is Matt Bouldin, who was All WCC last season and averaged 13.6 ppg. He was the high scorer in the Zags first game and he is their main offensive weapon.

One of the better new starters for the Zags is 7-foot center Robert Sacre, who went for 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the Zags opening game. The Spartans have to play good D on him and muscle him off the boards since MSU’s starting C Derrick Nix is only 6’8″, but he is 280 pounds.

MSU is known for playing tough hard-nosed defense and the inexperienced Zags will have to figure out a way to score tonight.

Bouldin will have to shoot well tonight so the Spartans do not pack the lane and make it hard for Gonzaga to score inside.

Spartans’ G Kalin Lucas is the reigning Big 10 player of the year and he had 21 points in the first game. The Zags have to play good D on him and not allow him to have a big scoring game.

Overall, the Zags have to play good all-around defense, as the Spartans can score inside and out. If Nix uses his 280-pound frame to get good position inside and get easy shots the Zags will be in trouble.

Lucas and backcourt mate Durrell Summers, who had 17 points in the win over Florida Gulf Coast, can both shoot the rock and each shot almost 40% from 3-pt land last season. The Zags have to get in their face on D and not give them easy looks from downtown.

Since the Spartans have better interior players the Zags may have to run an up-tempo game in order to win.

Jason’s Pick: With all the new players the Zags have they may be overmatched against an experienced and well-coached Spartans’ squad. MSU is also at home, where they are very tough to beat. The Spartans are a much better defensive team, but they play a slow-paced game and because of that they will not cover the spread even though they will win this game. Take the Zags and the points, but don’t expect an upset, as the Spartans are just too strong.