Date: Friday, March 11
Time: 6:30 pm ET
TV: Big Ten Network
With Michigan State's win over Iowa last night, some people are asking... is Michigan State a lock. My answer is no. In my opinion and many others, Michigan State needs to beat Purdue to really feel good about their chances of being selected for the NCAA Tournament. If Michigan State does not beat Purdue, they will be on the edge of their seat on selection sunday to see if they get in or not. Depending on the other conference tournaments and bid stealers will dictate Michigan State's NCAA Tournament chances, in my opinion, if they don't beat Purdue. So Michigan State needs this game badly.
Purdue is coming off a shocking loss to Iowa. The loss to Iowa knocked them down a notch in the NCAA seeding s-curve. Purdue needs this win to lock itself in as a three seed. If they make it to the finals, I see them as a two seed. Joe Lunardi feels different but Lunardi is better at projecting who gets into the tournament then he actually is with projecting seeds, in my opinion. This tournament is all about improving NCAA Tournament seeding for Purdue.
2010-2011 Season Series:
This season's series has been one dominated by the Boilermakers. They swept the regular season series against the Spartans for the first time since the 1996. They will go for the three game sweep today. It is not easy to beat Tom Izzo three times in one season. The first time around, ESPN College Gameday was in West Lafayette as Purdue rolled over Michigan State 86-76, as Purdue had lights out shooting. In the second meeting in East Lansing, Michigan was held by Purdue's defense as Purdue gelled and played as a team to get a nice 67-47 win over the Spartans.
Players to Watch:
Purdue: Keep an eye on E`Twaun Moore. In Purdue's last game at Iowa, he had a quite game, only scoring 11 points, as he was battling illness, which probably effected his game. He is back to par and look for him to play a big role in Purdue's scoring efforts today. JaJuan Johnson will be himself. Another person to keep and eye on is Lewis Jackson. So far this season, the Spartans have been unable to stop him and JaJuan.
Michigan State: Look for Draymond Green to have a bigger game than he did last time against Purdue. Purdue held him to just seven points last time. Kalin Lucas and him seem to be gelling together right now. He will need to have a bigger game than he did last time for Michigan State to have a chance. Also, Durrell Summers has taken a downward spiral this season. He isn't as efficent on the offensive end. Last year in the Spartans run to the Final Four, he was a key scorer for them. This year, he is struggling. If he can't fulfill his duties, the Spartans will need someone like Delvon Roe or Keith Appling to step up.
In the Iowa loss, Purdue didn't do to well shooting the ball from three. That is something Purdue relys on at points in the game and when they aren't falling, Purdue is in trouble. What angers me about Purdue sometimes is they shoot threes instead of trying to get the ball in the lane. If Purdue go the ball in the lane when their threes aren't falling they would be just fine. That is something they failed to do at Iowa and that is a big part of why they lost.
Michigan State needs to force Purdue turnovers and get tough on the defensive end. Watching the Michigan State/Purdue games from this year, I feel Michigan State has done a poor job of getting defensive pressure on Purdue. You can not allow a team like Purdue to go about freely with their business or you set your self up for loss every time.
Point Spread: Not Available Yet.
My pick in this one is Purdue. With the way Michigan State is playing right now, and with Purdue's domination over the Spartans this season, it leads me to believe that Purdue will win this one. It might not be easy, but I think listening to the Purdue press conferences from the middle of the week, that this Purdue team is ticked off that they lost at Iowa. These Purdue players were demanding a Big Ten championship and they failed their selves in the regular season. I don't think they take a loss in the quarterfinal. I think Michigan State makes it a close first half but Purdue pulls away in the second half and Michigan State gets "bubblicious."