At the Breslin Center in East Lansing at 9:00 PM EST, the Michigan State Spartans, tied for #1 in the Big 10 Conference with Indiana, will tip off against the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines are currently tied for #2 with the Wisconsin Badgers. In this game, where officials are asking fans of the East Lansing team to wear white, the stakes are high. It is the first time the two teams have met while in the AP top 10. If Michigan State wins, they will hold their number one spot in the conference. If they lose, then Michigan will tie with Michigan State and Indiana for the top slot.
It looks like we’ll have Brandon Dawson, Kieth Appling, Gary Harris, Derrick Nix, and Adreian Payne in the team’s starting slots. Travis Trice is still out with concussion symptoms and complications. All five of the starting players have scored 20 points in at least one game during the season, and four of the players have done so in Big Ten games.
In order to win tonight, the Spartans will absolutely have to limit the number of turnovers during the game. Their average has gotten better – down to 13.7 per game from 14 per game, but that’s still not a figure you want when facing off against another top-ten team to take the lead in the conference.
The last time the two teams met on February 5, 2012, Michigan State won 64-54. However, Michigan leads the series 94-75, though Michigan State leads at games fought out in the Breslin Center 46-36. MSU has won 19 of the last 25 games overall, and 12 of the last 13 at the Breslin Center. Moreover, Michigan State has won 31 of the last 31 games held at their home stadium.
While Michigan’s Trey Burke (18.2 points per game average and 7.1 assists per game average) beats out the averages held by Appling (14.1 and 4.1), MSU has a balanced scoring advantage and strong defense.
I’ll be cheering the Spartans here in the live blog and on Twitter at 9pm EST and 6pm PST. Go Green! Wear White!