The Syracuse Orange and the Michigan State Spartans square off Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. You already know Michigan State is good and Syracuse, even with a high national ranking, is struggling. However, this is a big game in an arena the Syracuse players and coaches know well. I expect the Orange to be up for the game.
However, with Syracuse struggling on offense, how the Orange play defense will determine whether they can stay in this game. We know Syracuse will be in it's trademark 2-3 zone, so I thought I would take a look at how well and how often Michigan State is shooting the ball from distance this year. For Orange fans, the results are cause for concern. After 8 games this season Michigan State is making more 3 pointers per game than they have in nearly 15 years. They are currently making more than 8 triples a contest.
Sadly, this isn't a case of the Spartans just blindly bombing away and making more shots based on volume, they are making a high percentage of shots as well. How high? Right now as a team they are shooting over 43% for the season.
Individually, Durrell Summers has taken the most 3s, and he's managed to hit 16 of 38, which is 42 percent. For comparison's sake, Syracuse doesn't have a guy who has taken more than one shooting over 40 percent this year.
Summers isn't the lone threat, or their best percentage shooter either. Draymond Green is shooting an absurd 54% from 3, and teammates Korie Lucious, Kalin Lucas, and Keith Appling can all make shots from behind the three point line in addition to beating you in a wide variety of other ways as well.
The way to get open shots against a zone is ball movement and ball reversal. Tom Izzo is one of the best basketball coaches on the planet and he'll have his team prepared to get the ball to foul line and short corner - and then kick it out for an open three if nothing is there.
For Syracuse to have a chance they will have to get in passing lanes and find shooters, because the Spartans have more than one guy that can rip the nets from way downtown.