March 20, 2013

Broekhoff-Payne matchup will be pivotal

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Michigan State's ability to deal with versatile Valparaiso power forward Ryan Broekhoff will be one of the biggest questions heading into Friday's Second Round NCAA Tournament game.

Perhaps more telling will be Broekhoff's ability to deal with Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne.

Broekhoff is a 6-foot-7, 215-pound, face-up power forward who can shoot the 3-pointer, and attack off the dribble to score or pass. He was Player of the Year in the Horizon League as a junior, and ranked fifth in the league in scoring in conference games this year (15.9) and second in rebounding (7.5).

Broekhoff shoots 43 percent from 3-point range, and has made 82 of 190 from long range on the season. No player has attempted more than 150 3-pointers for the Spartans.

Broekhoff is a matchup challenge for the Spartans. But Michigan State's Payne - as well as center Derrick Nix - are likely to be a matchup nightmare for the Crusaders.

"Adreian is a sensational athlete," Valparaiso head coach Brice Drew said during Wednesday interviews at The Palace, prior to Valpo's public practice. "He is extremely long.

"What I've enjoyed in watching his film recently is the energy he plays with and the emotion he brings to the game."

Payne is Michigan State's third-leading scorer at 10.4 per game, and also the Spartans' most efficient and dangerous offensive weapon. He shoots a team-high 56 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range.

Broekhoff, whose style of play is comparable to former Butler standout Gordon Hayward, is a better ball handler than Payne. But Payne can cover more ground with quick, long strides, often leading to rim-rattling dunks, the type of which Valpo rarely sees from its mid-major opponents.

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