The No. 7 Michigan Wolverines will host their in-state rival, the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans, on Sunday after a victory over Minnesota.
Both teams are seeking the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten rankings as they have the same Big Ten record. This game means the world for players on each team, so expect an emotional, hard-fought match. Here is a preview, and a prediction for this battle between these two teams.
What: No. 7 Michigan (24-3, 13-3) vs. No. 10 Michigan State (22-5, 13-3)
When: Sunday, February 24, 3:45 PM on CBS
Where: Crisler Center, University of Michigan
Keys to Victory for Michigan
Michigan has won its last 22 games at Crisler Center, which is currently tied for the second-best in program history. Thus, the homecourt advantage will undoubtedly have a positive impact on John Beilein’s team.
As the distributor on offense, Zavier Simpson has recorded three games with 10-plus assists this season. If he can pass the ball similar to his 10-assist nights, then the Wolverines will have a deadly floor general who finds open shots for himself and others.
Scoring off turnovers is one of the ways opposing teams can counter Michigan’s top-notch defense. Therefore, limiting turnovers will secure a Michigan victory. However, when the Wolverines do get sloppy with the ball, other teams are able to ignite a comeback or grow their lead.
On the offensive side, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews need to continue being the spark for Michigan. Ingas “Iggy” Brazdeikis will also be a significant factor in this matchup as he is the Wolverines’ leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points-per-game. This Big Three on offense will absorb the workload and should each score around 15-points to guarantee a Michigan win.
Keys to Victory for MSU
Michigan State is at a very similar level to Michigan. Thus, it will not require a career night from its star players to beat these Wolverines. Instead, it needs solid defensive play from every Spartan and the bench players to hit open jumpers.
MSU’s standout player is junior guard Cassius Winston who leads MSU in scoring with 18.9 points-per-game and assists with 7.4 assists-per-game. Furthermore, with Nick Ward out, Winston will not have his premiere big man available, so then the ball will be in hands for longer than usual.
Additionally, senior Matt McQuaid has stepped up to the plate. He has been a knock-down three-point shooter and reliable from the free throw line. On the defensive side, he is arguably MSU’s best defender and can lock up almost any Michigan player.
All in all, this game will be intense from start to finish and be very low-scoring. MSU will stay close with the Wolverines for a majority of the battle. However, with the crowd on their side, the Maize and Blue will be locked in and focus themselves for the remainder of the match.
Final Score: Michigan 54 – MSU 49
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