Both Michigan and Michigan State have had their ups and downs this year. John Beilein's Wolverines are seeking their first quality win of the season while Tom Izzo's Spartans are fighting to prove they're a legitimate tournament team. Here's the breakdown for when Gold meets Green.
Game of the Day
Michigan Wolverines @ Michigan State Spartans - 1 ET (CBS)
These two teams meet for the first time since Michigan State toppled Michigan last March to win the 2014 Big Ten tourney title in Indianapolis. However, we see two very different programs compared to last year. Neither team is ranked and they have a combined 15 losses compared to last year's 16 when they met in the final game of the regular season. But despite the drop-off in level of play, this still should be a very intriguing matchup.
Michigan is out to prove to the selection committee that their poor play is behind them. While the Wolverines (13-8, 6-3) have a solid conference record, their best wins this season have come over Nebraska and Illinois, two middle of the pack Big Ten teams. They need more than a few solid wins to balance out their early season upset losses. Zak Irvin has been playing solid as of recent, coming off a 14 point, 12 rebound performance against Rutgers. As one of the more talented guys out on the court, he has seen more opportunities following the Caris LeVert injury. His minutes have gone up significantly, going the full 40 in the Wisconsin game and going another 38 against Nebraska. Get used to seeing number 21 in maize and blue, because Beilein will likely have him out their for almost the whole game.
Michigan State will likely try to go to the post and pound this one out. Branden Dawson, while only 6'6', has a significant rebounding advantage (10.1 RPG) over his taller frontcourt opponent Ricky Doyle (3.0 RPG). With the Wolverines only starting one big man, Tom Izzo will likely employ Dawson and Gavin Schilling to do work in the paint. Given Michigan State is one of the best passing teams in the nation, don't be surprised to see feeds in the post to Dawson, only to have a kick out to Trice on the outside.
This has the opportunity to be a close game if Michigan's guards can play well. Aubrey Dawkins has shown potential as a three-point shooter and can ignite at any given moment. It will be interesting to see if he gets outside looks early. Other than that, the Spartans have the advantage, especially at home in the Breslin Center.