One of the most exciting challenges in College Basketball will come to a close Thursday with the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish taking on the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. These are two of the best teams in College Basketball and makes for a fitting end to this fun week for these two conferences. Unfortunately for the Big Ten, this challenge has been one sided all week, with the ACC winning 11-2 so far and the only Big Ten teams that have come out with a victory were Purdue and Nebraska. They will have one more chance as Michigan State takes on Notre Dame Thursday.
Game of the Night
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 3 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET/ESPN
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-5)
This is easily the most intriguing match up this week with this being the only top 10 battle. Michigan State (5-1) is coming off their most impressive win yet, defeating No. 13 North Carolina 63-45 and winning the Victory side of the PK80 Tournament in Portland.
The Spartans held the Tar Heels to 24% from the field and 1-18 from behind the line. They have had a brutal schedule so far but have handled it well, taking their only loss to the top team in the country, Duke.
Michigan State will run out one of the best starting line ups in the country every single game and that is why they are on the top teams in the country. Many different players can contribute at any given time as shown by their statistic leaders. Miles Bridges leads the team in points (15.2), Jaren Jackson leads the team in rebounds (8.2), Cassius Winston leads the team in assists (7.5) and Joshua Langford leads the team in steals (1.0).
These four players and Nick Ward make up the starting five for the Spartans. They are all averaging in the double digits in scoring with Bridges leading the charge. This is a lethal lineup from all ends.
Notre Dame (6-0) is also on a hot streak as they return from the Maui Jim Maui Invitational where they went 3-0 and finished an impressive comeback win against then No. 6 Wichita State in the championship. Notre Dame is a veteran team and it showed in that game, as they hit free throws and forced a couple timely turnovers to defeat the Shockers.
The Fighting Irish are led by two main seniors, Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell. Colson is averaging 20 points per game, 10.5 rebounds a game and 2.3 blocks a game, leading the team in all three categories. He also is shooting 59% percent from the field and 73% from the line. Matt Farrell is the teams second leading scorer as he is averaging a solid 17.5 points per game, but his defense and hustle are the traits that make him stand out. TJ Gibbs is third on the team with 15.5 a game.
This is sure to be a fun match up that will come down to the end, but the Spartans depth could prove to be what puts them on top and keeps them there. Look for Michigan State to hand Notre Dame their first loss.
Pick against the Spread: Michigan State