Staff Picks: Michigan State Basketball at Michigan

Michigan (18-7, 10-3) will host Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) on Sunday at the Crisler Center. Tip is scheduled for 12:06pm (EST) and the game will be televised on CBS. We polled our staff writers for both teams and six of the 10 writers predict Michigan will win the game. See all the picks below and feel free to let us know who you think will win the game by leaving a comment below.

Joe White – Michigan correspondent – follow Joe on Twitter @isportsJoe

Michigan has had their way with the Spartans over the past few seasons including an impressive win a few weeks ago in East Lansing. Lately, however, the Wolverines have shown to be less reliable than their early Big Ten season games indicated they would be. Slow starts offensively and a diminished display of team basketball will cause trouble for Michigan if it continues. Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin marked the first time in three years that John Beilein’s team has lost more than once on their home court. Look for the savvy game-planner to get his team back on track with a full week off to prep for a hungry Spartans squad. With Big Ten supremacy swaying in the balance, expect Michigan to keep it going at Crisler Center with a 78-73 win.

Rob White – Michigan correspondent – follow Rob on Twitter @isportsRob

michigan basketball

Caris LeVert

Over the course of the last three seasons, Michigan is 42-4 at home and the Wolverines, who are coming off a loss, have lost back-to-back games just two times. John Beilein has had a full week to prepare for this game and that is usually a good thing for Michigan.

Michigan State thrashed Purdue on Thursday to run their road record to 7-1 on the season. Not only did they lose to Michigan at home earlier this year, the Spartans have lost 5 of the last 7 games against their hated rival. They want this one, badly.

With Gary Harris and Nik Stauskas, this game features two Big Ten Player of the Year candidates. However, the difference will come down to players like Denzel Valentine and Caris LeVert. First place in the conference is on the line and this one will likely go right down to the wire.

I picked Michigan to lose at MSU earlier this year and they won and yeah, I can be a little superstitious. Michigan State wins 68-63.

David Harns – Michigan State correspondent – follow David on Twitter @isportsDave

MSU starts off in Ann Arbor where it left off in West Lafayette — clicking on all cylinders. The Nebraska loss is what this team needed to light a fire under them and the Purdue win is what they needed to get their confidence back. The Spartans go back to where they are most comfortable — the road — and win going away, 70-60.

Scott Pecenyisportsweb Senior Editor follow Scott on twitter @ScottPeceny

With both teams coming off losses in which they looked bad, this game is certain to be a slugfest. Michigan State has had a warmup game against Purdue to wash the bad taste in their mouth left by a home defeat to Nebraska, but Michigan’s last game was a loss against Wisconsin that was only close for a minute.

With that said, I can guarantee that both Tom Izzo and John Beilein will have their teams prepared to play when they arrive at the Crisler Center this Sunday.

Michigan won the last matchup fairly convincingly, but that was a game in which the Spartans were without star big man Adreian Payne. He will play this time around, and Michigan does not have an answer for him athletically. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are good role players in their own right, but without Mitch McGary, this Michigan team has been hurting down low. Don’t be surprised if Payne goes off in a Frank Kaminsky-like fashion.

Depending on how many minutes Keith Appling plays, the backcourt situation favors Michigan either a little or a fair amount, with Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, and Derrick Walton leading the way. If Appling is ready to play 30 minutes, then this MSU squad gets a big boost, if not, they are stuck with a struggling Travis Trice and an inconsistent Denzel Valentine at the point. Of course, Gary Harris is a lottery pick and will be the best player on the floor if he catches fire. He’s struggled lately (including a brutal 3-20 performance against Wisconsin) but could easily carry the Spartans to victory.

This will certainly be an entertaining game, and one in which the winner will have the outright lead in the Big Ten. My guess is that the line will be Michigan by about 5, but I think that’s wrong. My guess is that Payne has a big game, Appling plays significant minutes, and Harris gets out of his shooting slump with 20 or so. Michigan State 76, Michigan 68

Lucas Rains – Michigan correspondent – follow Lucas on Twitter @lucasrains

Any matchup between Michigan and Michigan State is bound to be a good one. Adding to the importance of the game for both teams is the fact that they’re tied for first in the Big Ten standings and a win gives one team a huge advantage as the season draws to a close. Michigan ousted MSU in East Lansing, where the Spartans were down two of its starters. It will be a tougher game for the Wolverines, even though it’s at home. Adreian Payne is back and Branden Dawson could play his first game since breaking his hand last month. MSU will likely be favored to win, as Michigan has looked a little more vulnerable over the last couple weeks. If the Wolverines want to come out on top, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas have to show up and score points. GRIII has been really, really quiet and Stauskas has been silenced by short, quick guards in recent games. If both Payne and Dawson go, the duo of Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan will need to minimize the rebounds–offensive rebounds, especially–of those two. It should be a funSunday at Crisler, but I’ve got the Wolverines coming out on top in a dog fight 72-70.

James Edwards III – Michigan State correspondent – follow James on Twitter @J_Edwards_MSU

The Spartans will have their hands full with a Wolverines team who is looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to Wisconsin at home. MSU is still battling injuries, and I think they are about two weeks away from being the team they have the potential to be. Michigan wins 74-70.

Scott Freedman – Michigan correspondent – follow Scott on Twitter @scottmfreedman

After a convincing throttling of Purdue Thursday night, the Spartans are looking to maximize momentum heading into Sunday’smatchup. And you know Adreian Payne is licking his chops after watching Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky simply dominate the Wolverines a week ago. But Michigan, who have lost merely twice in the Crisler Center this season, will certainly want to avenge the disappointing defeat. Don’t expect Michigan to roll over after dropping a winnable game at home, in fact, expect the opposite. I’ve got Michigan taking it 77-70.

Ryan Squanda – Michigan State correspondent – follow Ryan on Twitter @squandaryan

Since the last time these two met, both teams have been pretty up-and-down. Still, both Michigan and Michigan State remain the top two teams in the Big Ten, and Sunday’s contest will play a huge role in determining who will take the Big Ten Championship. In the Wolverine’s 80-75 victory over the Spartans in January, Michigan State was playing without two of their starters in both Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. And while the Spartans will still be without Dawson on Sunday, they won’t be without Payne this time around. The 6-foot-10 senior big man has been on a tear since his return and will certainly be ready to play in his last regular season game of his career against Michigan. Prediction: Michigan State 77, Michigan 70

Adam Renuart – Michigan correspondent – follow Adam on Twitter @AdamRenuart

The Wolverines have followed every loss of the season with a victory, and I think that streak continues on Sunday. Crisler is usually kind to Michigan, and despite the Wisconsin loss, their record over the past three years at home remains stellar. Michigan State will have to deal with Caris LeVert and his continuing emergence, so look for Nik Stauskas to break out of his slump as LeVert rises to the occasion as the second banana. Michigan State may be without Keith Appling, meaning that Derrick Walton Jr. will be able to have his way with the slower Travis Trice. Michigan’s biggest worry is the return of Adreian Payne. Payne’s ability to play inside and outside is similar to Frank Kaminsky, who just destroyed the Wolverines. However, Michigan will pull out a home victory despite a huge effort from Payne, as Stauskas and LeVert prove too much for the Spartans. Michigan wins 67-61

Jameson DraperMichigan State correspondent – follow Jameson on Twitter @jamdraper

This is a huge game for the Spartans. After losing to Michigan once— at home— when they probably should have won, it seems almost sacrilegious to lose to Michigan twice in one season. But due to the lingering injuries to Keith Appling and Branden Dawson and the inconsistent play of star Gary Harris, I don’t see Michigan State winning. They have a legitimate shot if players like Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice step up and help, but a Michigan win seems more likely here.

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