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2/24 Big Ten Preview & Open Thread: Michigan and MSU Finally Battle

Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has two games on Sunday, but one features a top 10 battle between Michigan and Michigan State in Ann Arbor. The other matchup will be between Minnesota and Rutgers. Buckle up for a full day of action.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-No. 10 Michigan State Spartans at No. 7 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 3:45PM (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-2)

It’s finally here. After months of waiting and anticipation, Michigan and Michigan State will finally tipoff for the first game in one of the Big Ten’s fiercest rivalries. Add in that both teams are tied atop the Big Ten standings and it’s easy to get excited about this one.

By this point in the season, we know that Michigan and Michigan State are both really good teams. Both already have at least 22 wins and are in the top 10 in the human polls and on KenPom. We’re long past the “overrated” portion of the season. If you’re still that high in the rankings, you’re at least a really good team. And both of these teams are excellent.

What those rankings mean is that this game could go either way. Both of these teams are more than capable of getting hot and coming out with a win on Sunday. Nick Ward may be out for the Spartans and this game may be on the road, but a hot shooting night and a few mistakes from the Wolverines could mean a win for Michigan State.

From a matchup perspective, there are a lot of intriguing things to watch in this one. To start, how will Zavier Simpson and Cassius Winston match up in the backcourt? The two have been battling with one another for quite some time now. Simpson has gotten the best so far, but Winston has been fantastic this year. Notably, how Simpson does in transition will say a lot about this game.

Additionally, with Ward out, will Michigan State change its tactics? We saw the Spartans experiment with a small ball lineup recently and one has to wonder if the team will try to roll with that on Sunday to minimize Jon Teske’s importance. It will be up to players like Xavier Tillman and Kenny Goins to fill in for Ward’s lost minutes. This is an area where Michigan appears to have an advantage on paper due to Michigan State’s injury situation.

It will also be interesting to see how Michigan chooses to deploy Charles Matthews in this matchup. The guard is arguably the best defensive player in the conference and could likely guard four positions in this matchup, if needed. Expect Matthews to move around in an attempt to stymie Michigan State’s offense.

There’s little debating that Sunday will be quite a battle between the Spartans and Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Both teams need this game for this season, but there are bigger things at play as well. Tom Izzo wants to break Michigan State’s recent skid against the Wolverines and John Beilein wants to close in on a .500 record against his in-state rival. Expect a fun one in Ann Arbor.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Michigan

The Rest:

-Minnesota Golden Gophers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 6:30PM (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-1)

Two teams that have been under the radar for the Big Ten in recent weeks are Minnesota and Rutgers. However, both have been playing relatively well and will matchup in an important game on Sunday for Minnesota’s at-large NCAA hopes and Big Ten Tournament seedings for both sides.

The matchup to watch in this game will be on the boards. Minnesota and Rutgers are two of the best rebounding teams in the country and who comes out on top there will likely win this game. As such, keep an eye on Jordan Murphy and Eugene Omoruyi.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers


Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 64-53-6