Penn State comes in with a record of 10-14, which includes a 2-9 mark in conference play. The Nittany Lions are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, and they've won only two games since posting back-to-back victories over Mount St. Mary's and Cornell just prior to Christmas. PSU is a woeful 1-8 in true road tilts this season, and has lost its last seven bouts as the visitor.
Michigan State is 18-5 on the year, and 7-3 in conference, and the team's record is even more impressive when you consider it started the year 0-2 after losses to ACC powers North Carolina and Duke. The Spartans took care of bitter rival Michigan on Sunday, 64-54, giving the team three victories in it last four outings. MSU is a perfect 14-0 at home this season, and has won 15 straight at the Breslin Center going back to last year.
Michigan State owns a commanding 29-7 advantage in the all-time series with Penn State, and that includes an 18-1 mark in East Lansing. However, the Lions have won two of the last three meetings, the most recent of which being a 61-48 decision in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Conference Tournament.
Despite being the lowest scoring team in the Big Ten (61.8 ppg), Penn State has one of the more productive players in the conference on its roster in the form of junior guard Tim Frazier. The 6-1 native of Houston, Texas is averaging 18.3 points and 6.3 assists per game, although he is shooting just 40.7 percent from the field and only 28.8 percent from three-point range. Jermaine Marshall is the Lions' only other double-digit scorer at the moment, but his 10.3 ppg come on just 37.1 percent field goal efficiency. As a team, PSU is hitting a mere 38.3 percent of its total shots, 30.8 percent from downtown, and only 66.7 percent of its free throws. Conversely, its foes are 42.8 percent accurate from the floor, 36.4 percent from beyond the arc and 74.2 percent at the foul line. The Lions do however, own favorable margins in both rebounding (+3.7) and turnovers (+1.5). Frazier was once again on top of his game in netting 23 points, but Penn State still managed to lose for the fourth straight time and the seventh time in the last eight games with a 77-64 setback at Iowa last Saturday.
Hot shooting and a dominating rebounding effort proved to be the difference in Michigan State's recent win over Michigan, as the Spartans hit 52.2 percent of their field goal attempts and easily won the battle on the boards, 40-16. Draymond Green logged a double-double consisting of 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Keith Appling and Branden Dawson pitched in with 10 points apiece for MSU. The club's defensive effort held the Wolverines to 39.6 percent field goal efficiency, and UM star guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. to just four points. As it is pretty much every year under the watchful eye of head coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, and it comes into this contest sporting the best rebounding margin in the Big Ten at +10.5. Through 23 games, Green is the team's leading scorer with 14.8 ppg, and he adds 10.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 34 steals and 24 blocks to his impressive stat line. Appling is the only other double-digit scorer presently, netting 11.9 ppg, and he is the active assists leader with 3.8 apg. As a collective unit, the Spartans are putting up 73.7 ppg while allowing a mere 59.1 ppg. They are hitting their total shots at a 47.7 percent clip, while the opposition does so at just 37.9 percent, which includes a poor 29.3 percent effort from long range.