Spartans have hands full with Valpo’s Broekhoff

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Michigan State’s NCAA tournament game against Valparaiso on Thursday (12:15 p.m. EDT tip-off) will seem as if it’s being played inside-out at times.

Spartans power forward Adreian Payne (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) will be defending Crusaders forward Ryan Broekhoff (6-7, 215) out beyond the 3-point arc much of the time.

Broekhoff, an Australian, averages six 3-pointers per game and leads Valpo with 15.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

“Ryan’s kind of a unique player for us,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew said. “He’s kind of a perimeter player, but he plays some of the floor for us.

“We’ve seen all types of matches. We’ve seen the five man on him. We’ve seen the one man on him. So we’ll have to wait and see how Michigan State matches up.”

Break Broekhoff and you break Valpo.

“What I love about him most is, he just loves to compete, he loves to win,” Drew said, “As you can see, he doesn’t have the biggest frame … doesn’t have a lot of pounds on him.

“But he is our leading rebounder because he has a desire to want to go get the ball.”

Said Payne: “He’s a great shooter. He goes both ways. He’s got a quick trigger like (Ohio State’s Deshaun) Thomas.”

He also reminds Payne of Indiana’s inside-outside threat Christian Watford.

“So he’s going to be tough to cover,” Payne added.

But can Broekhoff bang down low with Payne and MSU center Derrick Nix (6-9, 270)?

The Crusaders don’t list anyone on the roster as a center, and forward Kevin Van Wijk (6-8, 240) of the Netherlands also gives up size to Nix.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo expects to see a little more of Indiana transfer Bobby Capobianco (6-10, 245) off the bench.

“Yeah,” Izzo said, “I expect to see him. I expect to see some double-teams. You know, they trap the post pretty well. We might see more zone, who knows?

“I think they’ll throw some different people in there and keep running people at them, yeah.”

The matchups between the forwards and center in this game will be interesting to watch, and sometimes the defenders will seem as if they’re playing tag.

As for the power forwards, they’ll often be playing more than 20 feet from the basket.