1. Rebounding: Well rebounding is typically an aspect of the game that a Tom Izzo team would dominate in. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and the Spartans find themselves ranked 41st in the country in rebounding, only grabbing close to 40 rebounds a game (39.8). The Longhorns on the other hand have dominated the boards and have been able to grab 44.5 boards a game, which ranks them 7th in the country. Texas has a ton of length and has shown the ability to take over the rebounding game, as North Carolina learned when the two teams played this week. In the game the Longhorns outrebounded the Tar Heels 51-42 and won on the road. If they can do so at home against MSU, they will likely have beaten their second ranked opponent in so many games.
2. Branden Dawson v. Jonathan Holmes: Holmes has been great for the Longhorns and was a huge reason that they were able to beat North Carolina on the road. In the game he had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. At 6’8” and weighing around 240lbs, Holmes has body talent, but also knows how to use his body. He can shoot the three as well, making him one of the more dangerous players the Spartans have seen thus far. On the season Holmes has averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds as well as nearly 2 blocks a game. I am speculating but I believe that Dawson will likely match-up with Jonathan, though Payne could see him at some point in the game. Dawson did not have a good game against UNC but has come back with two high-effort performances in wins vs. Oakland and North Florida. Dawson has been rebounding great all year but with his talent we will always expect more. Like Holmes, Dawson is very athletically and physically gifted. On the year he has averaged 10 points and 9 rebounds as well as a little more than 1 steal a game. Branden will need a big game and matching up against Holmes will be a real test, the winner of this individual match-up will go a long way in determining the winner of the game.
3. Injuries: Whelp. The Spartans are injured or sick and it is not good. Gary Harris has a sprained ankle and Travis Trice has blisters on the bottom of his feet. Oh, and Matt Costello has mono and I have no idea when he will be able to return. It has been said that he will miss at least two or three weeks minimum, meaning that Gavin Schilling should see some extra playing time in that time. I have a feeling that Gary and Travis will both play against Texas, but how long? Michigan State cannot risk bringing back Harris too early or it could result in another injury-plagued year for the young guard. On the other hand, I am not sure Michigan State could beat the Longhorns without Harris. Trice has been an x-factor as well and could be extremely important in winning on the road for the Spartans. Will the two guards both play or how much will they play? If Michigan State and Tom Izzo want to win, they will both play and Harris will spend a substantial amount of time on the court if he is able to do so. The effectiveness of these two injured guards will have a huge impact on which team will win this game.