Tom Izzo and his Michigan State team are as good as any in the country right now. In college basketball (and in HS basketball alike), your team's ability to attack and beat zone defenses can make or break you throughout the season. Just look at a team like Illinois, one of the primary reasons why they've been struggling (aside from not having Jamar Smith) is their inability to beat zones. Teams scout that, and when they know you struggle against a zone, they will zone you up to choke the life out of you.

In this UPS whiteboard segment on ESPN, Jay Bilas breaks down a MSU quick hitter against the zone, using the overload. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Last year, we were primarily a zone defense team, and one of the losses we had on our record was a league game against an inferior opponent talent-wise. But they were well coached, and they prepared against our zone, and they beat us by using an overload. They mostly hit us with the short corner, and they had 1 shooter that caught fire in the 4th quarter hitting 3 or 4 3-pointers. We never recovered. We managed to make the playoffs because we ended up with a regular season record but we required help from other teams to achieve that better record.

I don't usually like the overload, primarily because it is more difficult to teach than a simple 1-3-1 set formation and run cutters. The overload works due to timing. The picks have to be set at the right time, the players have to break just right for everything to work. If the timing is off, you'll end up with a broken play or worse yet, a bad pass. But the overload does work.

If you're interested in the overload or any of Michigan State's zone offense, you'll enjoy Tom Izzo's DVD on the 1-3-1 Zone Offense. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.