The Columbia Lions visit the Breslin Center on Friday night at 9 p.m., as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Here is a quick rundown on the Lions as they prepare to take on the Spartans:
Head Coach: Kyle Smith (42-45, fourth season)
Last Season: 12-16
This season: 1-1
Key Players: Grant Mullins, Cory Osetkowski
The Columbia Lions come into this game as heavy underdogs. The Ivy Leaguers have virtually no chance against a soon-to-be number one ranked Michigan State team. Head coach Kyle Smith has done fairly well in his tenure at Columbia. 12-16 may be considered a disappointing season for a Big Ten team. But for a small school like Columbia, they are pleased.
Last year, the Lions were giant killers, knocking off two eventual NCAA tourney teams in Villanova (75-57) and Harvard (78-63). Columbia finished last in the Ivy League with a 4-10 record. However, they gave up the second fewest points in the Ivy League.
Two key players to watch out for are sophomore Grant Mullins and Cory Osetkowski. Mullins is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18 points per game. He’s shooting at an amazing 69% from the field and is 5-9 from behind the arc. At 6’3”, he will most likely be matched up against Gary Harris. Junior Osetkowski is the tallest player on the Columbia roster at 6’11”. He’s averaging 12.5 points and seven rebounds per game this season. Matt Costello or Adreian Payne will most likely draw this matchup. I don’t expect either player to struggle defensively or on the boards against Osetkowski.
This season, the Lions are 1-1. They came out victorious in their first game against Maryland-Eastern Shore 73-54. Their second game they fell to mighty Manhattan 71-70.
Columbia might seem like a weak matchup for Michigan State, but the Spartans are coming off a huge win over Kentucky. Too often, teams have letdown games after a huge victory, which could be Columbia’s only chance of winning. They are overmatched in every single position and don’t have nearly the depth of MSU. The Spartans proved on Tuesday that they deserve to be the number one team in the nation, and absolutely dominated the Wildcats. The game should have never been as close as it ended up being, which further proves how good MSU really is.
There is no telling what the Spartans will do to the Ivy League cellar-dwellers. This game could get ugly.
Blake Froling is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever