Michigan State wary of 3-point ace Giddy Potts
East Lansing – Fresh off its fifth Big Ten tournament championship, Michigan State is wasting no time getting ready to chase its ultimate goal in the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest and will play No. 15 Middle Tennessee in St. Louis on Friday, the 19th straight appearance in the tournament for Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo.
“It is an honor to be going to our 19th straight,” Izzo said Monday. “It’s something that has been earned by a lot of players and a lot of assistant coaches over the years, and I'm just proud to be a part of it.”
There’s no doubt the Spartans will be heavily favored against the Blue Raiders, but it won’t be a walk in the park. Middle Tennessee has won six straight entering the tournament, including beating Old Dominion in the Conference USA championship game.
And they’re not all that different than the Spartans in terms of style of play. They like to shoot the three and guard Giddy Potts leads the nation at 50.3 percent, just ahead of Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes (48.4).
“My big worry now is to try to win the weekend, and it starts with Middle Tennessee,” Izzo said. “They are very well-coached. Kermit Davis has been in it for a long time. They're a team that's gone to the NCAA Tournament before, a program that's gone there five out of the last seven seasons. They shoot the ball a little bit like us as far as the number of threes, but they have five guys that are shooting them. In other words, their center is a 3-point shooter, and so it will be a little different cover.
“The Giddy Potts kid is leading the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage shooting at over 50 percent, so we'll have our hands full with that. And then they play a lot of guys, just like us.”
One guy that likely won’t play for Michigan State is redshirt freshman Kenny Goins. He’s been out since Feb. 14 when he hurt his knee.
“Kenny Goins would really help us, and the best I can hope for maybe is the second weekend to be a spot player if we're in foul trouble,” Izzo said. “But I just think the amount of time he's had off, the chances are slim to none that he'll get in any in the rotation, at least as of right now.”