Coming off a key win over #23 Ohio State, Branden Dawson and Michigan State look to continue their solid play when they visit the Wolverines of Michigan in a primetime Tuesday matchup. In a battle of big name coaches, does Tom Izzo or John Beilein have the edge? Here's the breakdown.
Game of the Night
Michigan State Spartans @ Michigan Wolverines - 9:00 ET (ESPN)
Saturday's win over Ohio State was key for the Spartans and likely gave them the win needed to set aside a spot in March Madness. However there is still much basketball to play and games like this one in Ann Arbor can swing either way. Michigan State (17-8, 8-4) enters as 4 point favorites, and will look to continue their recent hot streak. Izzo's teams have been known to heat up come the ladder half of the season, and there's no doubt they have blood on their mind. This contest comes after these teams' first matchup back on February 1st in which the Spartans were able to escape the Wolverines 76-66 at the Breslin Center in OT. Due to the fact that this one is on Michigan's home court, it promises to be close as well.
Last time Green met Maize, Denzel Valentine went off, scoring 25 points and grabbing 7 rebounds with 7 assists. Valentine will be important in making sure the Spartans execute their gameplan properly. An essential component to their offense, he is averaging 15.6 PPG in conference wins this year but only 12.5 in losses. Valentine, along with Travis Trice and Dawson make the Spartans a formidable opponent with the potential to make major noise come March. In this contest, all three will have to demonstrate their veteran leadership when dealing with a hostile crowd on the road. Look for Trice to remain poised in times where Michigan makes their runs.
Michigan (13-12, 6-7) has seen their season go from bad to worse. After the Caris LeVert injury, there remained the realistic possibility for the team to make the NCAA tournament, but a string of four consecutive losses has the Wolverines reeling. Most recently, they are coming off an overtime loss at Illinois in which they were held to 52 points. Scoring has been hard to come by for John Beilein's team, but they're going to need it if they want to contend. Zak Irvin appears to be the go-to option, but Spike Albrecht and Aubrey Dawkins will also need to be involved to help with perimeter scoring. If the Wolverines can play lockdown defense, they have a fighting chance.
The winds are blowing in favor of the Spartans, but don't count Michigan out. This is a game that either team is very capable of winning if they come to play that night. Don't be surprised to see another close one, just like East Lansing. But when push comes to shove, Izzo and company have the definitive edge.