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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Who is Michigan State?

Christian Gooden
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, middle, during a time out in the second half against Middle Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA Tournamet on Friday, March 18, 2016, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Middle Tennesee State won, 90-81. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

On Friday, the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team will travel to Hawaii to take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Armed Forces Classic.

Michigan State is a college basketball powerhouse, and the opening season game between the two teams is the first time each team will wear special camouflage uniforms. It is a night to celebrate heritage, military and the opening of college hoops.

Get to know Friday’s opponent, here is Michigan State:

  • From: East Lansing, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 50,543
  • Colors: white and green
  • Head Coach: Tom Izzo is going into his 22nd year with the Spartans. His career record at Michigan State is 524-205, including seven Final Fours, seven conference regular season championships, five consensus All-Americans and one National Championship (1999-2000).
  • Izzo was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Fame in April of this year.

    Notable Spartans in the NBA:

    Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Draymond Green, Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Mateen Cleaves, Shawn Respert, Steve Smith, Eric Snow and Shannon Brown

    Key matchup for Arizona:

    Stopping Miles Bridges—Though a freshman, Bridges is the entire package. He is physical but has the touch from the perimeter to make him a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.

    Bridges scored 33 points in MSU’s exhibition opener to go along with eight rebounds. He did this by shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range while only playing 29 minutes.

    Bridges reminds Spartan folks of another former Spartan, Zach Randolph, who is currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. If Arizona contains him adequately, they should win the game handily, if not, it could be a very tough night.

    Big 3:

    Arizona will have to cover outside shooters against MSU. In their exhibition games, Michigan State has shot extremely well from the outside, hitting on 15 of 33 on the perimeter.

    This MSU team isn’t as physically imposing as other Spartan teams in the past, but Izzo’s crew will still be a handful for the Wildcats to deal with.

    Rebounding is another area of concern for the Wildcats. Arizona hasn’t rebounded the ball well in two exhibition games, and that is the bad news.

    The good news is that neither has Michigan State. MSU is down two key big men in Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling, so their tallest man sits at 6-foot-9 heading into the game.

    The Spartans have given up an average of nine offensive rebounds in both exhibition games, so this game may rest on which is stronger—the immovable object or the unstoppable force.

    Stopping transition will be the final key in Friday’s game. Eron Harris and Lourawls Nairn Jr. will push the tempo in addition to being pesky defenders.

    The Wildcats may benefit from the uncertainty of freshman Joshua Langford, who was hampered by a hamstring injury but has been cleared to play.

    The length and effectiveness Langford will provide is a giant question mark because, if healthy, Langford can score from anywhere on the court and is a matchup problem due to his 6-foot-5 frame and quickness.

    Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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