Michigan State vs. Michigan: Round 2

By Connor Muldowney
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t too long ago when these two teams last met. It was February 12, and the Michigan Wolverines traveled to East Lansing to take on the surging Michigan State Spartans.

The beatdown that ensued was one for the ages, and one that no one could have foreseen. The No. 8 Spartans took down the No. 4 Wolverines by the score of 75-52.

These teams are two of the best in the entire nation. They will meet again tomorrow afternoon, three weeks after the first game between the two. This game means more than just a rematch of one of the biggest rivalries in the Big Ten, but it also means the possibility to be one step closer to a Big Ten title.

Michigan State is one game behind conference-leading Indiana in the title race while Michigan is two games out of the race after a horrid loss at cellar-dweller Penn State earlier this week.

Both teams have been suffering through rough stretches in the past couple of weeks. Michigan has lost four straight road games and are now 4-5 on the season in road games. They are 7-5 in the last 12 games after starting the season 16-0 and earning the No. 1 spot in the nation.

Michigan State has lost two straight games against two of the conference’s top teams– Ohio State and Indiana. They have looked unmotivated late in games and their execution as a team has been mediocre at best.

Junior point guard Keith Appling and sophomore wing man Branden Dawson haven’t been playing to their potential in this rough stretch either. If they both play well tomorrow in Ann Arbor, the Spartans could sweep the season series.

The key area to focus on that could decide the game tomorrow is the play in the post. Michigan has had trouble in the post all season long with scoring issues and a lack of rebounding. Michigan State’s big men, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, need to exploit that to have success.

Trey Burke and the Michigan Wolverines will look to end any hopes of Michigan State winning the Big Ten title while the Spartans look to mathematically eliminate Michigan’s chances at a title.

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