Saturday, March 2, 2013

Michigan State at Michigan Breakdown & Prediction

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan
Time: 4 p.m.
Venue: Crisler Center
Records: Michigan State 22-6, 11-4 Big Ten; Michigan 23-5, 10-5
Michigan State stat leaders: Points – Keith Appling (13.4 ppg); Rebounds – Adreian Payne (7.3 rpg); Assists – Appling (3.8 apg); Steals – Branden Dawson (1.7 spg).
Michigan stat leaders: Points – Trey Burke (18.8 ppg); Rebounds – Mitch McGary (5.6 rpg); Assists – Burke (6.9 apg); Steals – Burke (1.4 spg).
Current Streaks: Michigan State L2, Michigan L1
Point Spread: Michigan -4
Prediction: Both teams are coming into this game a bit wounded by losses. Michigan State has suffered a pair of close losses to Indiana and Ohio State, while Michigan suffered an embarrassing loss to Penn State during the week. This win is crucial to both teams, not so much for the Big Ten race, but for NCAA Tournament seeding. Michigan has gone from being an expected No. 1 seed, to seeing a three or four seed in its future if it doesn’t get back on track. MSU still has a shot at the Big Ten Title if it wins out, and an impressive Big Ten Tournament showing could still give the Spartans a potential No. 1 seed. When it comes to Sunday’s game, I see it all coming down to toughness, both physical and mental. The Spartans dominated the toughness category in a 75-52 win over Michigan at the Breslin on Feb. 12. The Spartans dominated in all aspects of the game and took the Wolverines out mentally. Michigan had mental lapses and poor defense cost it against Penn State, and defense has been a big question mark for the Wolverines’ in their last seven games. Say what you will about talent, it doesn’t mean much if Michigan refuses to toughen up defensively. The Wolverines can’t allow MSU to control the paint like the first meeting, and Glenn Robinson III can’t check out mentally when called upon. Despite riding a two-game losing streak, Michigan State still has a clear toughness advantage over Michigan. Keith Appling had one of the worst weeks of basketball he will ever have, yet the Spartans lost two games to two ranked teams by a combined 12 points. Appling will be motivated to get out of his funk and rise to the challenge of facing off with Trey Burke. Michigan will also be up for the challenge of hosting MSU and getting payback, but I don’t see that being enough to beat the Spartans. I trust Tom Izzo over John Beilein, and Michigan has proven to wilt under pressure as of late. Unless the Wolverines shoot over 50 percent for the game, I don’t see them winning. Give me the Spartans in a season sweep. Michigan State 70, Michigan 64

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