This Tuesday, the 13th ranked Michigan State basketball team (16-3, 5-1) will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the unranked but very dangerous Badgers (13-5, 4-1). Tip off will be at 7:00 PM and will be televised on ESPN.
Over the course of the past fifteen years or so, there has been quite a rivalry instilled between these two schools to where it has gotten to a point that every meeting has become an interesting matchup. Michigan State leads the overall series 72-60. However, for a large part of the 2000’s, Wisconsin did hold the upper hand for much of the time. Most recently though, the Spartans have begun to regain control, including last year, winning all three meetings between the two schools.
As for this game coming up on Tuesday, Michigan State comes in riding high, having won five straight games in conference play, including a huge win on Saturday against Ohio State to help move themselves into the lead of the Big Ten.
On other hand, you have Wisconsin. It has been quite an up and down season thus far for the Badgers and none so much as this past week. Last week, Wisconsin got started by making their way to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the 2nd ranked Hoosiers. In a hard faught game throughout, Wisconsin came away with the upset victory, stunning the Hoosiers at home, 64-59. However, four days following their big upset win, the Badgers followed that up with a disappointing loss on the road against Iowa, 70-66.
Overall, in a lot of ways, Wisconsin somewhat mirrors Michigan State in the sense that they are both good rebounding, defensive teams. Also very similar to that of Michigan State, Wisconsin is a very well balanced team, with four players averaging 9 ppg or more, compared to Michigan State’s five.
One thing that Wisconsin does have the upper hand on over Michigan State would be their experience. While the Spartan’s one lone senior is center Derrick Nix, the Badgers feature three starting seniors that have been around for quite some time.
All three have a hand in the leadership of this Wisconsin team and all contribute their own things to the team’s success. These being shooter Ben Brust, leading rebounder Ryan Evans, and finally curly-topped Mike Bruesewitz, who is one of the hardest playing players in the league.
“He’s everybody’s favorite,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said of Bruesewitz. “He plays hard. He’s gotten better every year. He can shoot threes, post you up. I really like the way he plays and I think in that system, he’s kinda the perfect guy.”
In the end, this will be another tough road game and the beginning of another tough week in the Big Ten. In this one, Michigan State will need to bring their top notch game if they expect to head into Madison and come out with a win, which would be their third straight road victory in conference play.
Follow Ryan Squanda on twitter @squandarunner