Georgia Basketball Faces a Disgruntled Michigan State


Michigan State head Coach Tom Izzo appears perturbed by his team’s seventh seed. The Georgia basketball team appears thrilled to arrive with a ten seed. Will the attitudes mater?

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“A seven seed?”

Coach Tom Izzo apparently expected more for his Michigan State Spartans than a seven seed.

“A 7 seed?” Izzo asked back, “a look of surprise on his face” reported Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press. “Like I said, don’t play those tough schedules.”

Georgia fans can only be taken aback at Izzo’s comments. The Bulldogs earned a 10 seed after reaching the semi-finals of the SEC Tourney and scoring a 38 RPI for their work this season. The Bulldogs know that they earned their 10 seed by not only beating some good teams but by losing to some poor teams.

The Bulldogs are just glad to be in the Tournament. The Spartans appear worried over the details.

The difference in attitude is as striking as the difference in the two programs. Michigan State will make its 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Georgia has appeared in 11 NCAA Tournaments total. Will an attitude advantage help the Bulldogs? Perhaps, but these Dawgs can win this game without it.

While the programs have little in common, Georgia head coach Mark Fox said the teams do. “They are a team that reminds me somewhat of ourselves,” said Fox Mike Griffith of MLive reported. “They’ll roll their sleeves up and guard you, and they play as a team.”

The contest will be strength on strength. The Spartans rank 31 nationally in field goal percentage. The Bulldogs rank 17 nationally in field goal percentage offense. The Spartans rank 30 in three-point percentage offense, the Bulldogs rank 34 in three-point percentage defense.

Michigan State is led by 6’0″ senior  guard Travis Trice and his 15 point per game average. Junior guard Denzel Valentine (6’5″) scores 14.5 point per game. The two combine for 63 percent of the Spartans three-point attempts. Senior Brendan Dawson, a 6’6″ forward is the only other Spartan to average in double figures with 12 points per game. Michigan State also starts 6’9 sophomore forward Gavin Schilling 5’10” freshman guard Nairn Lourawls.

This is a game the Dawgs can win. Georgia must play a typical defensive game and shoot in the neighborhood of its average, but the match ups look good for the Bulldogs.

Keep an eye on Nemi Djurisic and Yante Maten. The pair will be asked at times to guard players with a shooting forward skill set as opposed to typical power forward bangers. On the other hand, look for Georgia’s Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines to spend time working close to the basket on offense and running the UCLA cut.

The Spartans may be slight of stature, but they feature two high school state players of the year and a McDonalds All-American in their starting lineup. On the other hand this is not one of Coach Izzo’s better teams. Could the “attitude factor” swing in Georgia’s favor and send the Dawgs to the round of 32? Who knows, this is foreign land to the Bulldogs and it remains to be seen how the team will react. All we know is they are hungry.

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