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Florida State at Michigan State Preview and Game Thread

Florida State travels to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans for the first time since 1997. This is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge which saw the Big Ten jump to a 4-2 lead in the first day. FSU enters on a two-game skid, while MSU has won four in a row (over weak competition) after opening the season with losses to UNC and Duke. The Noles still are searching for a signature out-of-conference win and this is one of two remaining chances to get it. The other goal before conference play to avoid any bad losses - which FSU has done so far.

The Seminole offense has been bad, averaging just 1.01 points per possession (PPP). The reason is simple: turnovers. FSU is turning it over on 25.3% of their possessions which is 303rd nationally, and the worst of Leonard Hamilton's career.

Aside from turnovers, FSU's offense has been quite good. On possessions where FSU does't turn the ball over, they're averaging 1.35 ppp, which is comparable to Duke's 1.36 when they don't turn it over (and they have the 7th best offense in the country). An extra 3-4 possessions would have been the difference in both of FSU's losses. The Noles are rebounding 38.4% of their own misses (42nd nationally), are 73rd in the country at getting to the line and their eFG% is 50.3, which is decent. Deividas Dulkys (48.1%) and Michael Snaer (40%) are both shooting well from beyond the arc.

On defense the Seminoles have been the Seminoles. They are currently projected to have the best defense of Leonard Hamilton's tenure. FSU opponents have an eFG% of 38.3 (8th nationally), are shooting 22.8% on 3s (10th), and a swarming defense led by Michael Snaer and Bernard James is blocking 19.4% of opponent shots (8th). Unfortunately, Terrance Shannon dislocated his right shoulder in the UConn game and will be out. He was playing the best basketball of his career.

Michigan State is a very similar team to FSU. Their defense is awesome (6th), while their offense is not so awesome (95th). They're plagued by turnovers (265th) and poor shooting (244th). Specifically, their 3-pt shooting has been terrible (23.8% - 333nd).

6'7 Senior Draymond Green is a player to watch for the Spartans. He was strictly an interior player his first two seasons, but added the 3 to his game last year. But this season he's been unable to knock it down (17.6%). Still, he's averaging 12.7 points to go along with 11.2 rebounds. He had 7 offensive boards against UNC and is adept at extending possessions. 6'1 Keith Apling was a turnover prone freshman who came in off the bench to spell Kalin Lucas. Now he's a turnover prone sophomore who has to start. He's another excellent 3-pt shooter who has struggled this year. The other backcourt spots are filled by Brandon Wood and Branden Dawson. Wood is a 6'2 transfer from Valparaiso who is surprising efficient on the interior (52% on 2s for his career), and 6'6 Branden Dawson is a 5* McDonalds All-American freshman who's averaging 8.2 a game by converting 60% of his shots.

The game tips at 7:30 on ESPN. The line in Vegas if Michigan State -6, and Ken Pomeroy has Sparty -4.