that’s not a good enough game recap is it no it’s not i guess we can go more in depth
so the game started off pretty good. at the end of the first half msu was up 31-28 but they gave up some pretty bad buckets to u of m in the last minute. michigan didn’t shoot well or hit any threes in the first half so that was kind of worrying.
in the second half, tv teddy took over and called msu like 3,870,462 offensive fouls on msu. lest i forget msu also played really bad up until the last two minutes where gary harris came in the clutch. and then things escalated and msu was going to have the last shot. however,as appling dribbled harmlessly down the court this trey burke guy ripped the ball away and got a breakaway dunk to take a 58-56 lead. then matt costello missed a wide open shot but derrick nix took the rebound and got fouled. after missing the first one, he made the second. it was 58-57. then msu fouled mitch mcgary and he missed the beginning of the one and one. msu called a couple stupid timeouts and then on the last possession harris tried to pass it to appling (why he did that i do not know) and it got picked off by burke.
Yes, it’s time to get the nutcrackers out again as the Spartans travel to Buckeye territory seeking another B1G road victory. And no, I don’t literally mean nutcrackers like the phony one that caused so much buzz this week until it was debunked. Much ado about nothing, the norm for ESPN. Anyway, the last meeting between these two teams at the Breslin was an awesome game that went down to the wire and I would expect nothing less this time around. The Spartans are fighting to remain within reach of a conference title and the Buckeyes haven’t defeated a ranked opponent since topping then number 2 Michigan at home back on January thirteenth. This is the best time of year, in the best conference in NCAA basketball.
Can't Stop Him, But Can Thomas Be Contained? (Getty Images)
Often regarded as a one man show, the Buckeyes are more of a three player monte. Deshaun Thomas is the man with his 20 points and 6 rebounds per game average and will be the focus of much defensive scrutiny. In the last meeting, Adreian Payne defended him most of the time instead of Branden Dawson and the resulting stat line was: 28 points, 7 rebounds. Payne’s long reach presented a different look for Thomas but in the end it would be hard to say it was a successful venture except for the fact that no one else did much of anything for the Buckeyes. Will the same matchup be used in this one? Only Izzo knows, but since the rest of the team was held down it is certainly plausible.
The other two players of note are vaunted defensive specialist Aaron Craft(9.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.3 APG)and Lenzelle Smith, Jr.(9.9 PPG, 5 RPG). Ohio State will need at least an average effort out of these two if they hope to get the victory, if not a stellar night from one of them. The Buckeyes have a pair of forwards, Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross, who are each averaging 7 points and 3 rebounds or so per game but beyond those two the scoring punch is quite anemic.
Good To See The Little Fella Back(J. Scott Park | MLive.com)
Coming off the disappointing home loss to Indiana the boys from East Lansing should be eager to right the ship. In the first game, Keith Appling held Craft to 6 points, Gary Harris held Smith to 5, and no other player aside from Thomas had more than 5 points. The Spartans also bested the Buckeyes on the glass 29-22. This is the sort of effort we will need to see if they are to escape the evil state of Ohio with a win.
The Spartans are a better offensive team than they were in that first game as a number of players have come around and are making huge contributions off the bench. Denzel Valentine had 7 points and 9 boards against Michigan and 6 points with 7 rebounds against Indiana. Huge. Matt Costello has settled in and provides quality minutes while giving Nix or Payne some needed rest. Nothing fancy, just a few points, boards, and blocks. Also, Travis Trice should have more availability after getting his feet wet versus Indiana without any reported setbacks. With what has emerged as a quality bench behind a rock-solid starting five of Nix, Payne, Dawson, Harris, and Appling, the Spartans are a difficult foe for any team and will be too much for Ohio State. Also, I heard Keith Appling had his clutch rebuilt, so look out.
Tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, #4 Michigan State hosts #1 Indiana for the first top-5 game at MSU’s Breslin Center.
These two teams already played each other once in Bloomington on January 27th, where MSU lost 75-70 (their last loss). They only lost by five to a team that is known for having a huge home court advantage, so many expect them to win the game tomorrow at home.
Projected Starting Lineups
Spartans | Hoosiers
G: Keith Appling | Yogi Ferrell
G: Gary Harris | Jordan Hulls
F: Branden Dawson | Victor Oladipo
F: Adreian Payne | Christian Watford
F: Derrick Nix | Cody Zeller
This team is much different, build wise, than the Michigan Wolverines. As opposed to Michigan’s guard-focused team with minimal usage of big men, the Indiana lineup is spread out across the board with big contributions from everyone on the court.
The first match-up is at the point guard position, between junior Keith Appling and true freshman Yogi Ferrell. Last time the two teams played, this was possibly the x-factor match-up, as Ferrell got Keith Appling to foul out after only playing 19 minutes and getting three points. Yogi himself played 31 minutes, had 11 points and three assists. In tomorrow’s game, Appling will need to play like he did against Michigan and Trey Burke, contributing on offense and giving the opposing point guard fits on defense.
The match-up at shooting guard is true freshman Gary Harris against senior Jordan Hulls. This is one match up from last game that the Spartans definitely won. While Hulls made a few good offensive plays, he could NOT stop Gary Harris on offense, giving up 21 points to Harris. Harris needs to exploit Hulls again this game if the Spartans want to be victors.
One of the more fun match-ups to watch this game will be Branden Dawson vs Victor Oladipo at the small forward spot. Victor Oladipo is one of the candidates for player of the year, and the game against Michigan State was no different. He dropped 21 points, had seven rebounds and SIX steals. SIX. Dawson will have to contain Oladipo a little bit on defense and will have to try to get Oladipo in foul trouble. Dawson has shown flashes of greatness this year, but has also shown that he could be a big liability. It is going to be fun to watch how these two play.
At power forward, the match-up is between two athletic big men, Christian Watford and Adreian Payne. Watford is a great shooter (see: his buzzer-beater in Indiana’s 2011 win against Kentucky), but also is a pretty good rebounder. Payne has impressive athleticism and can score at will, but sometimes looks lethargic out on the court. Payne, not known for his great shooting, has developed a good jump shot this season, so it will be interesting to see how Watford handles him. Payne played well against Watford in their last meeting, racking up 18 points and grabbing nine boards.
The last match-up is the team’s two big men, MSU’s Derrick Nix and Indiana’s young star Cody Zeller. Although their stats were similar in the last match-up, it felt like Nix (surprisingly) dominated Zeller all game. This was supposed to be the match-up that favored Indiana, but Nix kept Zeller in check the entire time, keeping MSU in the game. For MSU to win, Nix is going to have to do the same thing.
On the bench, the only player that MSU really has playing solid minutes is true freshman Denzel Valentine, who plays guard/forward. He’ll need to make a big impact this game, as in their loss in late January he played very poorly. On Indiana’s side, their only game-changing bench player is forward Will Sheehey, who entered the Michigan State-Indiana game in Bloomington, dropped a couple threes and gave the Hoosiers that extra push they needed for victory. At the Breslin on Tuesday, Valentine, Dawson or whoever will end up guarding Sheehey needs to make sure his buckets don’t come so easy.
The other things MSU needs to do to win this game are keep the turnovers down (they had 18 last time) and not foul as much (they racked up 18 fouls last game). Now, the foul number may be a bit skewed due to some poor officiating, but it wasn’t just a fluke that they had so many fouls. They’ll need to bring that number down.
It’s going to be tough to win this game, but the Spartans have the upper edge and home court advantage, so I expect this game to be a victory.
Former Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar has accepted the job to become the NFL’s New Orleans Saints running backs coach.
Here’s the statement MSU released following the announcement of Roushar’s departure:
The New Orleans Saints and Michigan State are built on similar models, with a focus on character and people. New Orleans has won a Super Bowl, and over the last five years, the Saints have been one of the winningest organizations in the NFL. I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mark Dantonio – in my opinion, the best college football coach in America – for the last eight years, including the last six seasons at Michigan State. Now, I have an opportunity to work for arguably the best coach in the NFL, in Sean Payton. Professionally, this is an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. Now as a running backs coach, I have the chance to learn the interworking of the NFL.
Michigan State is poised to have a tremendous year in 2013. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have worked alongside coach Dantonio, a talented coaching staff and gifted players. The last six years at Michigan State have been quite rewarding: six-straight bowl appearances, back-to-back 11-wins seasons including a Big Ten Championship and a Legends Division title, and four-straight victories over Michigan. It’s difficult to leave because it has been quite a ride, but professional opportunities like this are indeed rare. Coach Dantonio has built something special – it’s a program that pursues excellence in all aspects, not only on the field competing for championships, but also off the field in the classroom and in the community.
It was just reported a few days ago that he was a candidate for the job, so this escalated very quickly.
A lot have Spartan fans have been begging for Dan Roushar (who is 18-9 as the Spartans’ offensive coordinator) to get fired, and while he hasn’t technically been “fired”, he’s gone, and that’s what they wanted.
But there’s one more step- who’s in line for the job next? General consensus says that the two biggest candidates are running backs coach Brad Salem and quarterbacks coach Dave Warner but there’s a possibility the Spartans go looking outside of their own staff for a new coordinator.
However, a source on the team told me that Warner has “a good chance” of becoming the Spartans’ new offensive coordinator.
Stay tuned and follow @BOTRC on twitter for more updates.
It really almost isn’t a fair shake. The Spartans are riding high upon a four game winning streak, have just shellacked the vaunted Wolverines, and must play the somewhat lowly Huskers while trying not to look ahead three days to the tilt with #1 Indiana. This is the definition of a trap game, which is about the only aspect that lends intrigue. Well, that, and Nebraska did give MSU all they wanted in the first matchup at the Breslin so let’s peer into that box score a bit as we look forward to this game.
Senior Dylan Talley Is The Heartbeat (Photo: Doug McSchooler)
The Huskers were without Brandon Ubel and his 11 point, 7 rebound per game average in the first game and were forced to go small. That didn’t end up hurting them too badly though as they were able to get three of their backcourt guys into double figures and this is likely to be the area which this game will hinge upon as well. Gallegos(12 pts.), Talley(17 pts.), and swing man David Rivers(18 pts.) all managed an impressive outing on the road in a game which most of us thought would be an easy MSU victory.
With regard to today’s game, Ubel is a good player but the Spartans can negate him with the stalwart play of their post players. Given that, MSU must do a better job on Dylan Talley(13.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.4 APG) and Ray Gallegos(13 PPG, 3.4 RPG)in this contest. Nebraska is a quick team and will make you pay for turnovers if you are willing to help them out. The Huskers may elect to go small again since MSU is still without Travis Trice in hopes of wearing down a Spartan bench which is thinner at the guard position than theirs.
We All Love You, Big Fella (USA Today Sports Images)
Seriously, at this point, what’s not to love? In their last game the Spartans had everything working for them, and they weren’t exactly struggling during that impressive road victory at Purdue. I know, the Boilermakers aren’t terribly good this year, but road wins aren’t easy to come by in this conference regardless of the foe. Nix(17 pts.), Payne(12 pts.), Appling(17 pts.), and Dawson(20 pts.) all had monster games at Purdue, while we only need substitute Harris(17 pts. 5/9 from 3) for Payne to sum up the Michigan game. Further, MSU dominated the boards against Michigan collecting 40 total, 14 of which were of the offensive variety. Great team defense, rebounding, smooth offensive execution. Sounds like a Tom Izzo team all of the sudden, doesn’t it? I believe the Spartans will win this one handily and will get contributions from everyone. As Derrick Nix points out here , the team is playing with a bit of a chip on its collective shoulder and this seems to suit them well. They appear to be dialed in and going for broke so let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.
Tonight at 9 PM ET, #8 Michigan State takes on #4 Michigan at the Breslin Center on ESPN. The Spartans are 20-7 against the Wolverines since 1998, but this is by far the Wolverines best team since the Fab Five era.
Michigan State | Michigan
G: Keith Appling | Trey Burke
G: Gary Harris | Nik Stauskas
F: Branden Dawson | Tim Hardaway Jr.
F: Adreian Payne | Glenn Robinson III
F: Derrick Nix | Jon Horford
Michigan, who has one of the best offenses in the country, comes into tonight’s game after blowing a chance to be #1 in the country due to a crushing loss to Wisconsin. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days and don’t know what happened, watch this video.
Let’s look at the matchups coming into tonight’s game.
First of all, the biggest matchup by far will be Keith Appling vs Trey Burke at the point guard position. Trey Burke is a sophomore who decided to forego the NBA Draft last year, and this year is one of the (if not the) best players in the nation, averaging 18.2 points and 7.1 assists per game, including some stellar shooting from the field. Another thing worth noting about Trey Burke is his good handle on the ball, as he averages less than two turnovers per game. On the other side, there’s Keith Appling, who averages 14.1 points and 4.1 assists per game, but shoots a tiny bit better. Both of these players have improved tremendously from last year, but Burke is the clear better player. When being realistic, it’s obvious that Appling won’t be able to fully contain Trey Burke’s potent offense. All Appling has to do is slow Burke down just a tad and not rack up fouls quick. With Trice being out, Appling getting in foul trouble means that Gary Harris will most likely play the one guard spot, causing more turnovers than the Spartans can handle.
That brings us to the guard matchup, which is going to (most likely) be Gary Harris vs Nik Stauskas. Can someone say three point shootout? Hopefully Gary Harris can play a little bit of defense on Stauskas.
Next up is the Tim Hardaway Jr. vs Branden Dawson matchup. This is an odd matchup, mostly because Michigan uses Hardaway as a guard, even though he’s 6-foot-6. He’s a great shooter and has arguably been Michigan’s best player over the course of the past couple of weeks. It’ll be a good matchup to see Branden Dawson on him, because Branden Dawson should be able to do the best job on the team defending him (the only other option, really, is Gary Harris) and will hopefully be able to get to the bucket easier. Dawson can’t settle for jumpers.
At the power forward-esque position, the matchup will be between Adreian Payne and Glenn Robinson III, which is a really intriguing matchup. Glenn Robinson, despite being one of the “big men” in Michigan’s lineup, is only 6-foot-6. Adreian Payne, on the other hand, is 6-foot-10. Robinson III, a freshman, was named one of the candidates for Freshman of the Year (over Gary Harris, but that’s another story), but his play has dropped off significantly since they have started playing quality opponents. In the Wisconsin and Indiana games combined, he averaged 3 points and 25% shooting. Also, Robinson III doesn’t grab a lot of rebounds for a big man- only about 5.5. On the other team, Adreian Payne has been a great rebounder. However, he started off the season slow in the scoring department, but in his last nine games has averaged 12.1 points and shot 58.3% from beyond the arc. He’s only taken 12 threes, but all around his shot has looked really good. Payne making perimeter jumpers and three-pointers is not just a fluke anymore.
We’ve arrived at the center position, where the matchup will be between Derrick Nix and probably Jon Horford. Michigan’s starting center, Jordan Morgan, has missed a few games and is questionable for tonight. One would think Morgan wouldn’t miss the biggest game of the Wolverines’ season so far, but he’ll probably come off the bench best case scenario. We also have to remember that freshman Mitch McGary will get solid playing time, and he’s probably Michigan’s best center. Michigan State probably has the edge at this position, so it’s crucial for Derrick Nix to take advantage of this and dominate the Michigan big men a la the Indiana game, as he dominated Cody Zeller.
Coming off the bench for the Spartans will be Denzel Valentine, who will get a lot of playing time due to the Travis Trice injury. Also getting some significant playing time will be Alex Gauna and Matt Costello. The Spartans’ bench tonight will be thin.
Michigan’s bench tonight will definitely have the upper edge, with Mitch McGary, Caris LeVert, Spike Albrecht and possibly Jordan Morgan. Now, I don’t necessarily believe the Michigan bench has more talent than the Spartans, but they have a lot more depth right now.
While this game wasn’t a perfect one by any means, viewing the box score leaves me feeling pretty darn good about it just the same. Much of the season has been spent lauding the efforts of Appling, Harris and Dawson, and deservedly so, but what was most impressive about this victory for me was the contributions of a few other players. Yes, the Spartans appeared to have quality depth to utilize as Tom Izzo was able to go nine deep and still garner an impressive road victory. After basking in the production of the starting five for a bit I will examine the contributions of some of the backups.
Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix finally had a big game at the same time as the Spartans abused Purdue in the post. Combining for 29 points and ten rebounds, this duo started hot and maintained intensity throughout the contest. Whether it was Payne diving for loose balls or Nix attacking Hammons on the block, the Spartan bigs were dominant in the paint and nothing but good things follow when that happens.
Gary Harris, perhaps still feeling the effects of his back injury, managed to make some huge plays in his 24 minutes. He had 3 steals, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Good things come in threes and he was 2/3 from beyond the arc as he dropped 8 points. It has been said that he is still ailing but there isn’t much evidence of that in his play. Tough kid.
Branden Dawson had an amazing game, of course. He played 31 minutes(second only to Nix’s 32)and was 7/9 from the floor and a perfect 6/6 from the stripe on the way to his 20 point outing. Purdue fans may despise him, but he clearly loves him some Purdue.
Keith Appling was, well, Keith Appling. He played at a level we have all come to expect and appreciate and kept the offense focused like the floor general he is. And yes, that three point shot of his is a real weapon. 17 points, 2 assists, money from the stripe, excellent defense. Just another day at the office.
Most notably, Denzel Valentine provided some quality minutes. No, he did not score much in this one(2 points)but that isn’t always everything. He was able to contribute in other ways during his 24 minutes: 6 rebounds and 4 assists with plenty of needed energy. I like the way this kid plays and he will only get better with time.
Matt Costello grabbed a rebound and sunk a couple of free throws in his 13 minutes of play. I am not going to be all FREE COSTELLO but the fact is that the guy looked more comfortable than he has in some time. I do believe that he is the best option in the stead of Nix or Payne, even if he is coming along slowly. His stats are nothing to admire but I foresee him contributing more down the stretch, or maybe I am just hoping so because Gauna is meh. Anyway, he looked better.
Russell Byrd’s lone contribution statistically during his 15 minutes was a rebound. Although I was inclined to ignore his efforts completely(it’s less frustrating that way), I did take note of his desire to get involved while he was out there. He even demanded the ball at one point, and despite the fact that he promptly missed another three, any kind of self-confidence level displayed by him is a plus. Once Trice returns I am sure his minutes will plummet but whatever the Spartans can get out of him this season will be a bonus and the odds of getting anything are greatly increased if he doesn’t hide from the basketball. When he plays he needs to shoot; 0 for 3 is better than 0 for 0.
That about wraps it up from here. It was a glorious road victory as such things are always difficult to attain in the Big Ten. On to the next one.
First and foremost, it appears as though everyone except for Travis Trice will be available for this game which is extremely good news considering the number of injuries which occurred in the last one(all without a foul being called). There is speculation that Trice will be available for the Michigan game but attempting to predict the recovery period on a concussion is a dubious enterprise.
Keep Hammons Under Control (Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports)
The Boilermakers(12-11, 5-5 B1G) have been a solid program for many years but it seems as though it is their time for a season of retooling. They struggle to score, averaging 65 points per game along with a shooting percentage of 41% on the year thus far. Purdue’s leading scorer is Terone Johnson(12.4 PPG), followed closely by freshman center A.J. Hammons(11.2 PPG). No one else on the team is averaging in double figures, but D.J. Byrd is close at 9.9 PPG and he hits from three at a 35% rate. One of the things they are doing well, however, is something which would please Tom Izzo: rebounding. Purdue is currently ranked 11th in that category, grabbing an average of 40.6 boards per game(the Spartans average 37.7). Although this is largely a team effort, with everyone contributing several per game, the aforementioned Hammons is pulling down 6.8 per contest. So these guys are not lacking in the effort department and are not likely to roll over despite what the record may indicate. This will be a slug fest.
I'm Baaaaack (Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)
First half. These guys MUST show up in the first half. The Spartans have slept through portions of several games this year and they certainly do not need to push their luck on the road. Keith Appling and Gary Harris carried the team on their backs(and Harris had an aching back already)against Minnesota while they waited for someone else to realize the game had begun. Derrick Nix will have his hands full in the post with the 7-foot freshman and hopefully that challenge will awaken him early. Branden Dawson is basically considered public enemy number one by Purdue since he spurned them to attend MSU(who could blame him, really?)and I look for him to have a big game as the crowd taunts him. The Spartans still need to rebound better, having been outdone by Minnesota 36-27, but the suddenly reliable three-point shooting(50% vs. Minnesota)has made up for their deficiency in that area somewhat. I’d rather see them look inside more, but as teams have focused on defending that strength it is only natural to launch more from outside. The improved perimeter play has been an unexpected development for me and I hope it leads to more opportunities to feed the post for high percentage shots as well. Keep playing inside-out fellas, and take the openings they give you.
Ah. Sweet revenge. That’s the payoff awaiting the Spartans if they can log this one into the win column. I thought Minnesota was overrated at the beginning of conference play, and maybe the Spartans did as well when they played them in the first game and came up empty. Of course, at the time MSU was even more turnover prone and less consistent than they are currently and players like Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne hadn’t yet found their groove. Add to that the fact that Minnesota hit every contested leaner and off-balance prayer in that first game and the recipe was complete for a 76-63 road loss. The Spartans have made adjustments and grown since that time, while I feel that Minnesota has merely stood pat. With luck, they won’t have to call in this guy to get the job done..
The Gophers beat the Spartans on the glass in the first game to the tune of 38-24, with 12 of those yanked down by Trevor Mbakwe. Along with fellow senior Rodney Williams, Minnesota really had their way inside and earned their team far too many second chance opportunities. The pair of guards named Hollins also had productive days, particularly Andre, who dropped 22 points on MSU. The Gophers put forth a great effort and as much as I hate to admit it they outworked the Spartans and did all the little things well on the way to victory. While it is true that it seemed as though none of the contested shots caromed away harmlessly, Minnesota certainly did earn much of their “luck” with some inspired play. I expect them to be tough inside once again and have largely the same game plan since it worked out well for them in the first meeting.
Coach Izzo was not shy about calling out his team’s efforts on the glass in this article and rightly so. While the team has not been terrible it has not lived up to the high standards set forth and must improve. Izzo has always prided himself on having teams that will at the very least outwork anyone they face. His teams are about defense, about rebounding, and it was good to see him give them a reminder. That said, my major concern going into this one is the availability of Gary Harris. Reports are that he will be ready to go, but I have to question how many minutes he will be able to give if his back is still ailing him. Coupled with the definite loss of Travis Trice for this game(at least I have not read anything that has said he would be cleared following his concussion)the Spartans may find themselves terribly thin at guard against a team that is talented at that position. I’ve been a fan of Denzel Valentine and remain so but I’m not sure he can be counted on for production such as he gave versus Illinois(14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)on a regular basis just yet. With regard to the frontcourt, Payne has proven to be ready for any challenge thus far and while Nix has at times disappeared I believe he will be up for this game and ready to do battle in the trenches.
All in all, if the Spartans had all of their weapons available I would say this one could be won by a comfortable margin. Since it would appear as though a few guys will have to log more minutes than they are accustomed to, I am slightly less optimistic. Don’t be crazy—of course I am picking MSU to win. Keith Appling is still playing, right?
The Illini have fallen on hard times of late. Previous to the start of conference play they were sitting at #12 and feeling pretty good about it. They have since only had two wins, one against Ohio State at home and one against Nebraska on the road. The Spartans, meanwhile, are returning home after a heart-breaking loss to the Hoosiers, but one in which they managed to hang with Indiana despite two of their best players battling foul trouble all game. It’s good to be home again.
That Will Be Enough Of That, Mr. Paul(fightingillini.com)
There is a lot of talent on this roster, so it’s easy to see why there were lofty expectations laid upon them earlier this season. Beginning with all-world guard Brandon Paul(17.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, 34% from 3)and tossing in D.J. Richardson(11.8 PPG, 4.6 APG)the Illini bring two quality seniors at you in the backcourt which is a luxury any coach would enjoy. Illinois uses two other guards liberally as well, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand, which should help them pressure the opposition more effectively. Their big man of choice is 6′ 11″ Nnanna Egwu, but he is only grabbing 4.9 rebounds per game and puts up about 6 PPG to go along with those. The guards for Illinois are basically outdoing the frontcourt for rebounds which certainly suggests a problem exists up front for them. Additionally, overall team defense is lacking as evinced by giving up 74 points to Wisconsin and 68 to Northwestern.
Look For Another Big Game From Payne(AP Photo)
The Spartans just went on a road trip into two hostile environments and managed a split while showing improved play and a ton of heart. Returning home, they should be rested and focused and likely won’t be without two of their key cogs for extended time in this game. I would like to see MSU abuse Illinois inside, which should be easy, and utilize the three-point shot only when they have them handed to them. Adreian Payne(3-4) and Gary Harris(5-10)were incredible from beyond the arc at Indiana, but I don’t believe living and dying by the three is something MSU wants to attempt with regularity. Focus on defending the Illinois guards, rebound, and get out in transition. The victory is there for them but they cannot allow the wounded Illini to gain confidence. Get on them early, keep them down, and enjoy that long rest until February 6th when Minnesota comes to the Breslin.