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76 Days to B1G Basketball: Joey van Zegeren Goes Off In Spain, Michigan State Loses to Russia


Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

This off-season Northwestern was able to land grad transfer Joey van Zegeren, a senior that spent the beginning of his career playing for Virginia Tech. The 6'10" forward/center wasn't a huge acquisition or a major contributor for the Hokies, averaging 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds over 18.0 minutes per game throughout his career, but he was a nice enough pick up for Chris Collins and the Wildcats. Even more so when you realize he's not going to be a starter (as the team still has Alex Olah), rather he'll be an experienced back-up that will add depth in the frontcourt and give Collins someone to spell Olah with. At the very least he's a passable big that can clean up on the glass when called upon, a solid rotational player as long as he can avoid the free throw line (career 37.9% FT shooter on 182 attempts).

Anyway, as you should probably know, the Wildcats are currently overseas in Spain as part of their exhibition trip. The team recently rolled over UCAM Murcia by 40 points and while the talent overseas can sometimes be suspect, fellow Big Ten member Nebraska only beat the same team earlier in the month by a much slimmer 15 points.

The highlight of the day might have been van Zegeren, who added three alley-oop dunks in the third quarter alone on his way to 12 points. And luckily Northwestern has video footage of the dunks:

Michigan State falls to Russia

While talent on exhibition trips can sometimes be suspect, when programs face national teams there's usually a decent increase in talent as you'd imagine. So when Michigan State faced Russia, who is currently ranked sixth in the FIBA world rankings, it was going to be a much tougher and challenging match. Even more so when you realize that the three teams State will face this weekend are working on trying to secure a bid to the 2016 Olympics, not prepare for the college basketball season. Going up against a group of mid 20 to early 30 year old adults, Michigan State was overmatched on their way to a 75-93 defeat. Guard Denzel Valentine led the Spartans with 21 points, with Gavin Schilling also adding an additional 17 points.

The Spartans got off to a rough start, trailing 13-32 after the first quarter. It didn't help matters that the team struggled from the perimeter (8 of 25) and committed more turnovers (18) than assists (16).

Next up for the Spartans will be Italy, who are ranked a considerably lower 36th in the FIBA world rankings (State's third opponent this weekend, Georgia, is currently ranked 54th).