Wolverines and Spartans add another chapter to bitter rivalry
East Lansing, MI – The 23rd-ranked Michigan Wolverines will ranked Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center when the two rivals square off in a Big Ten Conference battle.
This will be the 169th meeting in the all-time series and second encounter this season. Michigan holds a 94-74 advantage over the Spartans after its 60-59 victory on Jan. 17th last month. The first matchup between these two provided a thrilling finish, which is highly likely to happen again in this one.
Michigan head coach John Beilein led his team to a crucial 68-56 home victory over the Indiana Hoosiers on Wednesday to stay just a game back of first place in the conference. Despite defeating Purdue recently on the road, Michigan is still only 2-5 in games away from home this year. The Wolverines still own an impressive 17-6 overall record which includes a 6-3 mark in league play. The Wolverines submitted a stellar shooting performance from three-point range against Indiana, as they made 9-of-22 from long range to power the victory. The Wolverines provide a challenge for their opponents as they allow a mere 60.9 ppg, which is fourth best in the league.
Michigan has one of the best backcourts in the nation as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke are two of the top guards in the Big Ten. Hardaway is the team's leading scorer with an average of 15.1 ppg. The sophomore guard has scored in double-figures in three-straight outings after his 13 point outing in the win over Indiana. Hardaway Jr., has a big impact every time he steps on the floor due to his athleticism, which he utilizes at both ends. Despite being a freshman, Burke is third in the conference in assists (5.0 apg) and second on the team in scoring (14.3 ppg). Jordan Morgan is leading Michigan on the boards with 5.6 rpg and Zack Novak is a third scoring option as he is netting just under 10 ppg.
Tom Izzo's team fell to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten action on Tuesday when it dropped a 42-41 decision to the Illinois Fighting Illini. Michigan State is 1.5 games back of first place and would like nothing more than to move past Michigan in the standings as it avenges its loss from last month. The Spartans will be looking to bounce back from their horrendous performance their last time out, as they shot a season-low 24.1 percent from the floor against Illinois. Michigan State also dished out a season-low of four assists against the Fighting Illini. Despite the atrocious showing its last time out, Michigan State is still ranked third in the league with a scoring average of 74.1 ppg.
Draymond Green is pacing Michigan State with 14.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. The senior forward will try to recover from Tuesday, when he scored only five points and committed five turnovers his last time out. Keith Appling is second on the team in scoring with 12 points per game while he leads the squad with 3.9 assists per game. Brandon Wood and Branden Dawson are solid contributors with scoring averages above eight points per game.