With Saturday's major matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, it seemed like a good time to bring BTPowerhouse's writers together and get their thoughts heading into the game. It's certainly a huge game for both sides and could shape the Big Ten title chances for each.
Check out the discussion below.
1. What Are Your General Thoughts On This Matchup and What Does It Mean Going Forward?
Thomas Beindit: Obviously, this is a huge game for both sides. Not only is it a matchup between two highly ranked teams, but it's also a chance for Maryland to get a marquee win and for Michigan State to get back on track. The Spartans have now lost three in a row and desperately need a win. On top of the implications for each, this is also a game with plenty of talented players and star power. Two of the Big Ten's best players in Melo Trimble and Denzel Valentine will be facing off and two of its best newcomers in Deyonta Davis and Diamond Stone will matchup as well.
Marco Knudsen: Even though Michigan State has lost three in a row, this is still a very compelling game as the Spartans look to get back on track. They've been derailed since Tum Tum Nairn went down, and have not found the consistency on defense that head coach Tom Izzo preaches. Maryland has a tough stretch of games on the horizon with this tilt and then hosting Iowa. Maryland was abysmal on the glass Tuesday against Northwestern, and will need to exhibit more physicality and mental toughness in order to compete on the boards with a Spartan team which ranks third in the country with a +12.2 rebounding margin.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I've gone back and forth about what this game means for Michigan State quite a bit since Sparty's loss to Nebrasketball on Wednesday night. Would it be nice to win? Of course it would. But is it a necessity? Nah. This is a Tom Izzo team after all. They'll figure out a way to run without Tum Tum -- more than likely with Denzel Valentine running the point forward -- sure up the defensive intensity (and every other issue Izzo has thrown his team under the bus for during this three game losing streak) before they grab a four or five seed in the tournament and do what Izzo teams do... win.
Am I suffering from blind confidence? Of course I am. I've studied at the altar of Tom Izzo long before Drew Neitzel was shooting jumpers with both hands. And if I've learned one thing, it's to never over analyze a regular season performance by the Spartans. Because when they find their way back into the Final Four, nobody will care that they lost to Nebraska and Wisconsin (but I will always care that they got swept by Iowa).
Andrew Holmes: The Spartans and Tom Izzo have to be motivated going into this one. Michigan State simply cannot lose this game if they want to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten title. On the other side, Maryland can answer the two biggest question marks surrounding this team. A convincing win on the road against a ranked-team will silence many of their doubters, even if MSU is currently reeling.
Wola Odeniran: I'm going to be very interested in seeing how the Spartans play against Maryland while they are dealing with a three game losing streak. We all thought that the Spartans would be at least in the top three of the Big Ten standings at this point but the Iowa Hawkeyes look like the team to beat at the moment.
For Maryland, I'm looking to see if they can play up to their capability for the first time this season against a ranked opponent. Maryland has been sloppy with the ball all year as they average 13 turnovers a game. The little things like turnovers have not only limited Maryland, but their rebounding has been an issue as well. Maryland has six players on their roster who are at least 6'9 and the team only average 35.6 rebounds a game which is ranked 234th in the country. The Terps are a good team, but I want to see them play a clean game for once.
2. What's The Matchup To Watch When Maryland and Michigan State Tip-Off?
Thomas Beindit: The matchup that I'm particularly interested to see is Davis and Stone upfront. These two may not be the best players on their respective teams, but both are vital to the success of each. If either ends up having a big night, there's probably a good shot that their team ends up winning. Michigan State can really produce in transition, so seeing what Stone can do against Davis in those settings will be interesting.
Marco Knudsen: I'm curious to see the battle between Diamond Stone, Robert Carter Jr. and Damonte Dodd against Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling and Deyonta Davis. The battle on the boards will be especially important for Maryland as they need to prove they can out rebound big, physical teams.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Can someone put out an EPB on Bryn Forbes? During Sparty's three game losing streak, the senior guard is 5-22 from the field (22.7%), 3-15 from three with three turnovers and eight fouls. Valentine needs a release valve and his high school running mate needs to rediscover his confidence. He's been getting some pretty juicy looks, he just needs to see a few fall through the net. What will be interesting (and what I'll be focusing on) is if he can get it going with Rasheed Sulaimon, one of the Big Ten's best wing defenders, draped all over him.
Andrew Holmes: Well ideally it would be Tum Tum Nairn guarding Melo Trimble, but with the injury to Nairn the matchup becomes Melo against whoever Izzo decides to put on him. So for all the wrong reasons, that is still the matchup to watch. The Spartans don't have a true point guard that can match Trimble, so we might see Izzo throw multiple guys at him throughout the night.
Wola Odeniran: I want to see Maryland point guard Melo Trimble and Michigan State point guard Denzel Valentine lead their team in a competitive game. This will be a game of runs. Both players are still Big Ten player of the year candidates and I really feel like this game could be a turning point for both sides.
3. Who Wins On Saturday Night?
Thomas Beindit: Without a doubt, I think this is going to be a tight one. Both of these teams have plenty of talent and desperately need a win. I think the home crowd is going to be fired up as well and will play a factor in this, at least early in the matchup. All told though, I think Maryland comes out on top in a narrow game. I think Michigan State still has too many questions around Valentine and the Terps are playing too well.
Marco Knudsen: I would not want to be a Spartan player right about now coming off of three consecutive losses. With Tum Tum still sidelined, I feel the Spartans find a way to come away with a victory thanks to the leadership of Denzel Valentine. Spartans win 63-57.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Maryland wasn't very impressive against Northwestern the other night and in general, I haven't seen the Terps squad that we all imagined would be storming through the Big Ten. They've feasted on the Big Ten's cellar dwellers and none NCAA Tournament teams thus far (Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State and Northwestern), so I'm excited to see them against someone from the upper echelon (which Michigan State is still a part of). With all of that said, I'm backing the Spartans at home in a tight one with a big night from Denzel Valentine who has rounded himself back into form since coming back from injury against Penn State.
Andrew Holmes: I'm going to go with Michigan State for two reasons. First, I can't fathom a Tom Izzo team losing four in a row, especially one as talented as this group. Second, Maryland is 2-2 on the road this season and neither of those wins was all that impressive.
Wola Odeniran: I'm going to go with Maryland. Maryland has a bit more confidence going into this game and they also won last on the road at Michigan State without the likes of Diamond Stone or Robert Carter in the front court. If the Spartans were rolling on a hot streak, I would have picked them, but I think Maryland gets the edge here.