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Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Michigan State Spartans basketball preview: Q & A with The Only Colors

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If EMU is going to try and be the best team in the state, they're going to have to beat State.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It was just last week when Eastern Michigan pulled off a 3-point win over Michigan on their home floor. Can the Eagles make it two in a row as they travel to #25 Michigan State on Wednesday night? We'll be able to see how it all at 9 p.m. on the Big Ten Network, but I talk to Joe Tuohey from The Only Colors, SB Nation's Michigan State blog, to see what we should expect.

I'm still new to these things. What am I supposed to do after beating Michigan? I know that there was a couch or two burned in Ypsilanti, but nothing to the degree of what you good fellows do. But just so we know for next time, what are we supposed to do with ourselves? Hopefully you're the expert that can help me out with this.

Personally, I think you guys nailed it. The burnt couches, the graffiti on the Michigan Rock, and the over-the-top locker room celebration fill all of the necessary buckets. A++

If you're asking at a personal level, I'd suggest perusing MGoBlog for Schadenfreude. They're always appropriately apoplectic.

I live in Ann Arbor and have taken a few classes at Eastern, and I've never understood how two schools that are so close to each other geographically and at the same NCAA division didn't have more animosity. People in Ypsi don't even seem to resent Ann Arbor at all. They're so easy to hate!

Possibly the toughest defense Michigan played against up until last week was Syracuse (go figure). Who's been a tough matchup for MSU this season? Why?

This is kind of a tough question to answer because the issues were very different in MSU's three losses. Against Duke, we just didn't have the depth to handle them. Against Kansas, we got outrebounded. Against Notre Dame, the defensive rotations and late-game offensive sets were spotty. The rest of the opponents have not been high-quality.

The common thread here is that teams with some quality depth present issues. MSU has just 8 rotation guys on scholarship, and just two of those guys are taller than 6'6. This has forced some players (namely freshman point guard Tum Tum Nairn) into roles larger than ideal.

Rebounding is a big deal for Rob Murphy and how he runs this team. How difficult is it going to be for the Eagles to keep Branden Dawson from grabbing the boards?

Depends on Dawson's mindset, really. If he's engaged, Dawson's athleticism really presents problems for opponent forwards, whether they are big-ish or stretch-ish. But there have been times throughout his career where he hasn't shown up for entire games. I assume he'll find some room to grab some offensive boards in that Eastern zone, but his dominance or disappearance is sort of a Dungeons-and-Dragons style dice roll.

Is there any reason for me to think that that there could be an upset here? I mean, I do, but I don't want to be too much of an optimist here.

Yes, absolutely. MSU's offense is pretty dependent on threes at this point, and if this unorthodox EMU zone is as disruptive against MSU as it was against Michigan, the offense could go quiet for stretches.

Also, I wouldn't say that MSU has a lockdown perimeter defender that can definitely handle Raven Lee. With Alvin Ellis and Javon Bess working their way back from injury, there could certainly be miscommunication within defensive rotations.

One last thing, the students are gone for break and so the Izzone won't be providing the usual Breslin Center atmosphere.

Prediction?

I think this ends up being a relatively close game against a confident EMU team. MSU pulls away at the end once the zone gets figured out. MSU 69 - EMU 60