Both teams will have their hands full in the back-court, as four players for each team will see plenty of action. We previewed the perimeter match-ups here. Let's take a look at the "bigs" who will play for each team.
The Wolverines have only two players that see regular playing time, and they're both good, a senior and a sophomore:
- 6-3 Junior, Cyesha Goree
- 6-4 Senior, Val Driscoll
Driscoll starts most every game, but plays the fewest minutes of the starting group. She averages six points and six rebounds per game. She's a reliable veteran who plays well within the system.
Goree is the match-up problem of the night for Michigan State. She's averaging nearly a double-double after doing very little her first two years. Her weakness is free-throw shooting, where she hits less than 60% of her shots.
The Spartans have four players who play power-forward and center:
- 6-3 Senior, Analise Pickrel
- 6-3 Junior, Jasmine Hines
- 6-4 Junior, Becca Mills
- 6-7 (R)Junior, Madison Williams
Pickrel and Mills start and usually play heavy minutes, while Hines comes off the bench for 15-25 minutes per game. Williams is used occasionally, limited by her surgically repaired knees, but has been effective at times this season. Pickrel was second-team all-conference, while Mills was honorable mention.
It looks like MSU can rotate defenders on the UM "bigs", but it seems unlikely that Pickrel will draw much time on her. Mills and Hines should be able to handle either Michigan starter, and Williams may very well be the answer to Goree for short stretches. I would like to see Pickrel taken off low-post duty to be deployed on any one of the UM wing-players where she can present a devastating size mis-match.
The key for the Spartans to contain Goree is to let her move freely on the perimeter, where she is just a passing partner to her teammates. Her defender needs to maintain presence in the paint to stop Goree down low. Hines can do this, as well as Mills and Williams.
Any one of the MSU players can control Driscoll, though she will probably have her moments a few times during the game.
Michigan State should be able to win the battles down low, assuming no foul troubles. The only game-breaker player for Michigan in this game likely would be Cyesha Goree.
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