Michigan State Basketball: 3 keys to beating a reeling Michigan team

Michigan State's head coach Tom Izzo gets emotional talking about the shot that his son Steven Izzo
Michigan State's head coach Tom Izzo gets emotional talking about the shot that his son Steven Izzo / Nick King / USA TODAY NETWORK
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2. Make. Your. Shots.

While Michigan was a scoring machine early in the season, it has been the worst defensive team in the Big Ten all season, giving up an astonishing 79.2 points per game. They have the second-highest opponent field goal percentage, the second-highest 3-point field goal percentage, and forces the second-least amount of turnovers.

I know, asking this MSU hoops team to make shots is like getting a group of kindergarteners to sit still though an entire movie that doesn't involve dancing animals. No one said it was easy, but it can be done on occasion.

Despite the horrendous starts and bad stretches, MSU is still fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage and hopefully Tom Izzo realized that Xavier Booker outscored his two centers combined in only six minutes of play against Wisconsin. Whatever his defense liabilities are, I'm more than winning to live with them against this team in order to have a big with offensive production and provide floor spacing with the 3-point threat.

Even if Michigan State gets down early, Michigan has shown that it cannot hold leads late. Do not deviate from your game plan and let the Wolverines self-destruct.

3. Win the rebounding battle

In terms of rebounding, these two teams are eerily similar. They're separated by 1.3 rebounds per game average with the advantage going towards the Wolverines, 36.9-35.6.

On the defensive side, they're separated by 0.7 in allowing opponents to grab rebounds with the Spartans allowing 34.3 and the Wolverines allowing 35. In a game that should be extra physical, this is not the time to assume a teammate will grab the ball. In fact, I would give anyone that gets a foul going for a rebound as long as it shows you're not backing down to a team like Michigan.

Don't allow offensive rebounds and if Mady Sissoko grabs an offensive rebound, I'd tell him to look for a teammate immediately. These cute little 2-foot fade away misses are getting old fast. I would be perfectly fine with Carson Cooper, Jaxon Kohler, and Xavier Booker cutting into his minutes and bringing him against the second unit.

In a rivalry game like this in a season like the Spartans are having, limiting their second-chance points and giving your team an extra shot at points are critical and it all starts with rebounding. Michigan's forwards are good, not great, and no true center like Purdue's Zach Edey or Indiana's Kel'el Ware.

Win this game and it gives Spartan Nation something to feel good about, if only for a few hours.