Wisconsin vs. Michigan State, Round 2

Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3 Big Ten) had a big 2nd half lead the last time they played Michigan State (13-9, 5-5 Big Ten). Then everything promptly fell apart; the Badgers were unable to close out the 2nd half, and Bo Ryan's team fell flat in overtime. It was a game that should never have gotten that far, in my opinion. Wisconsin failed to get the shots they needed to close out the game and failed to play the defense necessary to keep MSU on its heels late in the game.

After the jump: a look at both teams since that first game in East Lansing.

Since that game, Wisconsin and Michigan State have gone in opposite directions. Wisconsin has won 4 of their last five games, all in regulation. Whereas Michigan State has lost 4 of their last 5, with their last three Big Ten wins all coming in overtime at home...

Wisconsin won 3 consecutive games after their collapse in East Lansing. They started off by defeating Illinois in Madison, splitting the season series. The next game. Freshman G Josh Gasser recorded the first triple-double in school history in a blowout win over Northwestern in Evanston. The Badgers got stiff opposition from a surprisingly resilient Indiana squad back in Madison the next game, but came away with a win nonetheless. Afterwards, the Badgers fell to the Nittany Lions, which was Ed Dechellis's first ever win over Wisconsin. But Wisconsin bounced back from their loss in State College and managed to match Purdue punch-for-punch in the Kohl Center, coming out of the game with a hard-fought 66-59 win.

Michigan State, on the other hand, managed to improve to 4-1 in the Big Ten with another overtime win, this time over Northwestern. But then, the Spartans faced a substantial obstacle: they had to play Illinois and Purdue on their home courts in consecutive games. And while the Spartans lost both games, they weren't blown out either time and they did give Matt Painter and Bruce Weber fits. And then the Spartans took on Michigan at home...and things didn't go their way at all. Michigan managed their first win over Michigan State in men's basketball since 2007, and came away with their first win in East Lansing since 1997. Ouch. Fortunately for the Spartans, Tom Crean brought the Hoosiers to the Breslin Center. While the Spartans proved unable to close out the Hoosiers in regulation, they were able to come away with their third overtime win of the year.

But no one predicted that Michigan State would be blasted to smithereens by Iowa the very next game. It was a rout almost from the opening tip, Iowa simply would not relent until Tom Izzo's team had been ground into the dust. With the embarrassing loss, MSU fell to 5-5 in the Big Ten, only a few weeks after standing at 4-1 in the conference standings.

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Wisconsin likely will need a big game from Jon Leuer to beat MSU.

Bo Ryan has never lost to Michigan State in Madison. If the Badgers are truly going to push Ohio State for the conference title, they MUST beat Michigan State here. They must close out both halves, which they didn't do in the Breslin Center. The Badgers must show the same resilience they showed against Indiana and Purdue if they are to keep this season's untarnished home record intact. Getting swept by the same Michigan State team that was blown out by Iowa...well, it would be an embarrassing black eye on the Badgers' conference record.

That being said, Michigan State will put up a fight, as they did in 2007 on Senior Day in Madison when Wisconsin was ranked 5th in the nation and MSU unranked. Will Draymond Green be able to pull out 20 points in the Kohl Center? Will Jon Leuer lead the Badgers to their 7th conference win of the year? Anything is possible, but given MSU's recent struggles (losing badly to Iowa, needing overtime to beat Northwestern and Indiana at home), I believe the the Badgers have a very good chance to split the season series.

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