Friday, February 28, 2014
Time: 4PM ET
Venue: Breslin Center
Records: Illinois 16-12, 5-10 Big Ten; Michigan State 22-6, 11-4
Illinois stat leaders: Points – Rayvonte Rice (16.0 ppg); Rebounds – Rice (6.0 rpg); Assists – Tracy Abrams (3.2 apg); Steals – Rice (1.5 spg).
Michigan State stat leaders: Points – Garry Harris (17.9 ppg); Rebounds – Branden Dawson (8.7 rpg); Assists – Keith Appling (4.8 apg); Steals – Harris (2.0 spg).
Current Streaks: Illinois W2, Michigan State L1
Point Spread: Michigan State -11
Prediction: Michigan State appears to be back to a full lineup with Dawson returning. Though Appling is still battling his wrist injury, the Spartans may not get any healthier than this. It’s been a long week since the loss to Michigan on Sunday and the Spartans need to take care of business at home against a below-average Illinois team. With Iowa and Ohio State on the horizon, this is the easiest game left on MSU’s schedule. A loss could severely impact MSU’s seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Illinois is riding a two-game winning streak, and I do expect MSU to be a little rusty out of the gate, but the Illini shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Michigan State. The Spartans are better on paper and should be better on the court. Michigan State 72, Illinois 60
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
It wasn’t a surprise to see Mark Dantonio get a contract extension and bump in pay following this past football season.
It also probably wasn’t a tough decision for Michigan State to make.
On Tuesday, details of Dantonio’s new deal came out and the Spartans’ head coach is now going to be making $3.64 million annually and his assistants are also seeing pay increases. Most notable of the assistants is defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who will now be the highest-paid assistant in the Big Ten at $904,583 per year.
Following MSU’s Big Ten Championship, Dantonio’s name popped up as a potential replacement for Mack Brown at Texas, but he quickly shrugged off those rumors. Now, Spartans fans shouldn’t have to worry about Dantonio leaving.
When Dantonio started in East Lansing, there wasn’t a lot to be excited about in terms of a national outlook. That has completely changed in his seven seasons with the Spartans.
It took some time, but Michigan State is now a Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion and Dantonio has turned East Lansing into a destination job, at least for him. Michigan State and Mark Hollis has also decided to make MSU a destination job, putting Dantonio near the top 10 in the country in terms of pay.
Pat Narduzzi sticking around is also a big key. The defensive coordinator passed up more money and a chance to lead his own program to stay with MSU for at least another season. Who knows what Dantonio and Narduzzi have discussed about future plans, but it is clear that Narduzzi recognizes something within the program. He doesn’t see the momentum train stopping anytime soon, thus damaging his chances to one day lead a program.
The success of the 2013 season was something Michigan State fans had been longing for for quite some time. Now the expectations have been raised and have changed in East Lansing. Time will tell if Dantonio can sustain this type of success, but the university has made it clear that it is going to do what it can to help him do just that.
Time: 7PM ET
Venue: Mackey Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
Records: Michigan 19-7, 11-3 Big Ten; Purdue 15-12, 5-9 Big Ten
Michigan stat leaders: Points – Nik Stauskas (17.0 ppg); Rebounds – Jon Horford (4.6 rpg); Assists – Stauskas (3.5 apg); Steals – Caris LeVert (1.2 spg).
Purdue stat leaders: Points – Terone Johnson (11.8 ppg); Rebounds – A.J. Hammons (7.2 rpg); Assists – Ronnie Johnson (3.5 apg); Steals – Bryson Scott (1.0 spg).
Current Streaks: Michigan W1, Purdue L2
Point Spread: Michigan -5
Prediction: On paper this looks like it should be an easy win for Michigan, and it very well may end up being just that. However, this is an important game for the Wolverines. Coming off the big win at home against Michigan State, the Wolverines need to avoid a letdown on the road against a Purdue team that is desperate for a win against a marquee team. On paper, this is a great matchup for Michigan as the Boilermakers have been very shaky on defense. The Wolverines should be able to score points at will if they are prepared to play. Purdue can do its fair share of moving up the court as well, but the Wolverines don’t need a strong defensive effort to outscore the Boilermakers in this game. Michigan hasn’t won back-to-back games since beating Purdue at home back on Jan. 30. With the Big Ten in their hands, the Wolverines have a favorable four-game stretch to end the season. Now the team just needs to go out and take care of business and not tighten up. I suspect Michigan takes care of business tonight. Michigan 76, Purdue 67