While the offense between the Michigan State Spartans and the Minnesota Golden Gophers is evenly matched, the Spartans take the cake for defense. They are only allowing opponents to shoot .387 from the field, ranking them third in the Big Ten. This includes limiting opponents to .316 from the 3-point range, making them sixth. MSU ranks 3rd in the conference for their scoring defense, allowing only 59.4 points per game from the opposing team for each conference. In the two conference losses, MSU allowed 75.5 points on .538 shooting; both teams (Minnesota and Indiana) were shooting over 50% from the field.
What State will need to do in order to win the game is strongly limit the number of opportunities top scorers Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, and Trevor Mbakwe have to shoot the ball. With Branden Dawson’s team-best 39 steals and 22 blocks and Appling’s 1.8 steals per game, they should be able to keep the ball from the Gophers paint.
The Gophers are the best rebounders in the Big Ten and they out-rebound opponents by a +9.1 margin, ranking them second in the conference. They also pace the Big Ten with 6.2 blocks per game. The Gophers tend to keep their opponents to 61.4 points per game, just a bit more than that of the Spartans. They are averaging 13.9 turnovers per game when compared to the Spartans 14.3.
The defenses will be playing hard today, and a lot of the opportunities to score for each team will rest upon the teams’ abilities to keep their opponents out of the paint and grab the rebounds for their own team to move the ball back down the court.