Gametime: 2:00 ET
At the beginning of the season, the Michigan St. Spartans were ranked second in the nation and projected to make yet another Final Four under current Head Coach, Tom Izzo. The Michigan Wolverines were not ranked and were expected to have a big down year as most saw them finishing 10th or 11th in the conference.
No one could have predicted the season both of these teams have had. Michigan State has seen itself lose two players and struggle to get into the NCAA Tournament, falling clear out of the Top 25. The Spartans will finish one game above .500 in the Big Ten, if they win this game. That is a far cry from their projected regular season crown. Overall, Michigan State is a shocking 17-12.
Michigan saw itself start the Big Ten season 1-6 after a promising non-conference start. The win at Michigan State earlier this season changed it all. The Wolverines beat the Spartans 61-57 in East Lansing and have since then played their way on the NCAA Tournament bubble, winning their last 7 of 10, only losing at Ohio State, at Illinois and against Wisconsin in a buzzer beater.
Michigan will look for the season sweep of the Spartans today. If Michigan wins both teams will finish at 9-9 in the Big Ten. That would be quite a jam in the middle of the conference with a lot of sorting to do for Big Ten Tournament seeding.
Michigan needs this win more than Michigan State at this particular point in time. If Michigan wants to ensure it is on the right side of the bubble come selection Sunday, a season sweep of the Spartans would look good to the selection committee, especially if Michigan State gets an at-large bid. With that said, both these teams will need strong showings in the Big Ten Tournament.
For Michigan State, Kalin Lucas has been the only consistent player as of late. He averages 16.7 points per game. If the Spartans want to avoid being swept by the Wolverines, they will need a strong showing from Draymond Green, who will need to penetrate the paint and Durrell Summers.
Michigan has been pretty consistent the past 10 games. Darius Morris averages 16.7 points for the Wolverines. Also averaging double figures is Tim Hardaway Jr, with 12.4 points per game. It would be extremely beneficial to Michigan if Zack Novak got hot from three point range in this game.
The keys for Michigan in this game will be to neutralize Draymond Green, get Morris and Hardaway Jr. going, as they are a great back court and they need to spread Michigan State out. With all of that said, I think Michigan wins this game because they do those things.
It will be a crazy atmosphere as the Wolverines will be fired up to attempt to sweep the Spartans. I just think this years Michigan State team is what their record says they are. I don't think we will see any surprising runs in the Big Ten Tournament or NCAA Tournament from this team, this year. This ship has sunk this year. I think the Spartans get in the NCAA Tournament, but I don't think they go far.