Michigan State (12-5) looks to even the season series this afternoon as they take on No. 14 Maryland Terrapins (16-2) in College Park. Earlier in the season, Maryland got the best of the Spartans as they pulled out a close one, winning by two in double over time, in East Lansing. Today, Michigan State looks to seek revenge and hand Maryland their second home loss of the season.
After a shaky start to the season, Tom Izzo finally has his team playing they way he wants them to. If Sparty continues this level of play and knock of the Terrapins, they will be back on track to make their 18th straight tournament appearance.
What to watch for:
Scoring: Last time these two faced each other, neither one shot over 35 percent from the floor. Defense was the name of the game, as one player from MSU, Travis Trice, scored in double-digits. Maryland had two players score in double figures, but shot the ball just as poorly.
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There’s no reason to expect the same type of painful shooting, but it should be a bit more bearable, for MSU at least. Over the past two games, Maryland has not shot over 40 percent and barely escaped with victories. While MSU’s past two games have shot over 50 percent.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (37%) and three-point defense (28%), which smells like trouble for Maryland, who’s trying to get out of their shooting slump.
Battle of the boards: Maryland was plus 16 on the boards in their last meeting but, there’s no reason to expect such a margin this time around. During their three game winning streak, Michigan State has been plus 39 in their rebounding margin and leads the Big Ten in the same statistic (7.8).
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Maryland was able to pull out a close against MSU because they had the advantage on the boards. Michigan State is arguably the best rebounding team in the Big Ten and they must prove so against Maryland. Branden Dawson and the team is back healthy and must make a better effort on the boards to stand a chance against a hungry Maryland team.
Ball movement: Eight. The number of assist Maryland in their two point victory. Michigan State leads the country with 18.3 assist per game and how the three ball has been falling for them, they must use these to their advantage. Last meeting Michigan State moved the ball around but, did not hit any of their shots.
Moving the ball is something Maryland doesn’t do well, they’re 259th in assist per game, which can plague them if Michigan State’s defense is up to the task.
Moving the ball and knocking down the shots for Michigan State is the only way they can knock off Maryland.
Prediction: Michigan State 71-65. The first time these two teams squared off, it came down to the wire, we should expect them same this time around.
Time: January 17th, 4pm
Where: Xfinity Center, College Park, Maryland