No. 10 Michigan State at Michigan
2/6/16, 2:00 EST
On Saturday, No. 10 Michigan State (6-4 Big 10, 19-4 Overall) will travel to Ann Arbor for their only matchup versus Michigan (7-3 Big 10, 17-6 Overall) this season. Unlike previous seasons where these rivals normally meet twice, this is will be the matchup for the best basketball team in the state of Michigan.
Michigan State is coming off of three straight victories including a 96-62 rout over Rutgers at home last Sunday. Bryn Forbes has been a huge compliment to Denzel Valentine these past 3 games and has averaged 17 points while shooting 62% from three.
Michigan has played above expectations these season, especially without their projected NBA first-round pick Chris LeVert in the lineup. LeVert has missed the past 9 games with a lower-leg injury and is questionable for Saturday’s game, but Michigan is still 4th in the Big 10 Standings.
Although Michigan leads the all-time series 94-79, Michigan State has won the past 3 matchups. They look to hand two consecutive home losses to the Wolverines as Michigan lost heavily to Indiana 80-67 Tuesday night.
MSU will most likely be without their best perimeter defender Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn. Jr. for the 6th consecutive game (plantar fasciitis).
Match-Up to Watch
A key match-up to watch in this game is how Michigan will be able to guard MSU’s big men. The Spartans lead the Big 10 in rebounding where as Michigan is 2nd to last in that category. Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and Matt Costello are going to look to take lots of shots down low while continuing to grab nearly every rebound. Michigan’s Mark Donnell and Derek Walton Jr. are going to have a tough time stopping the Spartans from grabbing lots of rebounds and getting second-chance points.
X-Factor for Michigan State
Matt Costello is going to be a huge factor in this rivalry game. As a senior, he knows how important rivalry games compared to Deyonta Davis who has never played in one. Costello has played limited minutes in the past few games because of ankle injury. With a full week to rest, Costello should be much healthier and expect him to have a double-double in this game.
X-Factor for Team Michigan
Michigan needs to continue to do what they do best: shoot threes. Michigan is 3rd in the Big 10 in this category with four of their players shooting above 40%. Duncan Robinson makes nearly half of his 3-pointers (48%) and will look to raise that number Saturday afternoon. MSU is missing their best perimeter defender, so Michigan should get some open looks and they have to sink them.
The Wolverines lead the Big 10 in fewest fouls per game (16.7). They also lead the Big 10 in fewest free-throw attempts per game (16.2). The Spartans rank near the bottom of the Big 10 in fouls per game so Michigan has to think about driving the lane and putting MSU in foul trouble. Look for the FTA difference between the teams to be a deciding factor in the end.
Rankings don’t mean much in rivalry games. Michigan is also coming off a home loss where they allowed an embarrassing 25 straight points. They will come out strong, but Michigan State will still be better. Both Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello will have a double-double for the Spartans as they beat Michigan for the fourth consecutive time.
Final Score: Michigan State 75, Michigan 70