In a battle of Top 10 teams, Michigan Basketball (21-3, 8-3) will play at Michigan State on Tuesday night. Tip is scheduled for 9pm and the game will be televised on ESPN. This contest marks the third time in the last 4 games that Michigan will play a team ranked in the Top 10.
The 8th ranked Spartans (20-4, 9-2) are tied with Indiana for first place in the Big Ten. Michigan State has declared the game a white out. Michigan fans should take note of how impressive it looks because the Maize Outs never seem to saturate the entire arena when U-M calls for one. Michigan State is playing as well as any team in the country right now. They are balanced with 5 players averaging over 9 points per game. They are very effective in the post and have some capable shooters from long range. For more on the Spartans click here: Spartans ready for Michigan.
This tilt with the Spartans caps an absolutely brutal 4-game stretch for the Wolverines. That stretch featured a home victory over Ohio State sandwiched by road losses at Indiana and Wisconsin. The loss to the Badgers was particularly gut wrenching, but it also shows that if you’re going to beat these Wolverines you need to play a game for the ages.
Both teams have a key player that is battling injury and questionable to play. For Michigan State it’s reserve guard Travis Trice. For Michigan it is starting forward Jordan Morgan.
This is a pivotal game for Michigan’s Big Ten Championship hopes. A loss would drop them two games behind Indiana and MSU with 6 regular season games left on the docket. This game is just as big for Michigan State and you know they don’t want Michigan picking up a victory in their house. Expect both teams to play at a high level, with intensity and passion.
As usual, defensive rebounding will be key for Michigan. Not only do they want to limit second chance opportunities for the Spartans, Michigan loves to run off a missed shot. That puts Michigan’s ever improving freshman Mitch McGary front and center. He leads the team in rebounding (6.1) and blocked shots. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, McGary also ranks second on the team in steals and is shooting 58.7% from the field. Another facet of McGary’s game that might not get talked about enough is how quickly he triggers the break after he secures a rebound.
The difference in this game might be McGary’s freshman cohorts Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. “Their game opens up, not only on the offensive court, but on the defensive court when we get out in transition and get them easy buckets,” Trey Burke said on Monday. He also talked about the importance of getting Stauskas some open looks from the three-point line. If they can do that and Stauskas heats up from beyond the arc, Michigan becomes a very difficult team to defend.
When Tim Hardaway Jr was asked what it would take for Michigan to win at Michigan State on Tuesday night, he said the heart of a Zack Novak. “When we went up there my freshman year, Zack was the catalyst for us,” Hardaway said. “You just see the emotion, the toughness, that he brought to the table. Everybody followed him. That’s what helped us get that win.” Hardaway Jr. has been outstanding for Michigan this season and he is playing with an edge and a bit of that Zack Novak mentality.
Predictions: So far this season I am 22-2 and Joe is 20-4 predicting the outcome of Michigan Basketball games. We have different opinions regarding the outcome of this game. Regardless of that we both agree that this will be a fantastic match up between two of the top teams in the country.
Joe: Michigan State 77-75
Rob: Michigan 74-72
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