TIME / TV: 9:00pm ET on Big Ten Network
When Michigan State takes the court tonight against Minnesota, both will be looking for a much needed win, but which team needs it more? In my opinion, Michigan State needs this win more. Minnesota has wins against teams like West Virginia, UNC and Purdue, while Michigan State has wins against Washington on a neutral court, Minnesota and Wisconsin at home, but they have yet to get a good road win. That being said Minnesota doesn't really have a great road win either and even though they have lost their last five of six, to me, Michigan State has seemed to struggle more as of late, and needs this win, but it's a close one.
Minnesota is coming off the loss at Penn State, while Michigan State is coming off the win against Illinois. In the Big Ten, Minnesota sits a 6-8 while Michigan State sits at 7-7. Really, Minnesota needs to get to .500 in the conference. That would be helpful for an NCAA Tournament bid. I just think that the Spartans need this game more. If MSU wins, Minnesota has three games left against the middle to lower part of the Big Ten, that they would need to finish at 9-9 in the conference.
Michigan State and Minnesota both came into the season expecting to make the NCAA Tournament without a problem. Both have been affected by transfers and problems with players violating team rules. Now, both are just fighting to get in on the bubble.
(More after the jump)
The Big Ten Tournament, in March, could help out both of these teams tremendously. That is why I would not exactly say this is a "must win" for either team, I just think Michigan State needs it more. That said, whichever team doesn't win, will need a strong performance down the stretch and into the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota has the more favorable schedule, while Michigan State has a tougher schedule, still having to play at home against Purdue.
Michigan State is lead by senior, Kalin Lucas, who averages 16 points per game. Their rebounding leader is junior, Draymond Green, who average eight boards per game.
Minnesota is lead by senior, Blake Hoffarber, who has emerged as the teams leading scorer with 14 points per game. They have Trevor Mbakwe to lead them in rebounding with 10 rebounds per game, he also averages 13 points per game.
The ESPN spread for this game has Minnesota by three points. I think It will be a close one. Michigan State is coming off a much needed win against Illinois. In the second half of that game, they looked like they were playing as a team, that is something they will need to continue tonight to pull out a win.
Michigan State needs to get Draymond Green going on the rebounding. They must fight on every possession against monster rebounder Trevor Mbakwe. As far as scoring goes, the battle will be close, it depends who gets firing on all cylinders. It is sure to be a close one.
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