Michigan State at Northwestern 1PM
Michigan State has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. The situation and what was allowed to take place is tragic and disgusting. However, the MSU basketball team has shown no sign of letting these distractions get to them. Tom Izzo has taken everything back to the basics of coaching and has his team starting to heat up just before postseason play begins. The door is wide open for Sparty to secure the Big Ten regular season title if they can avoid losing to inferior opponents down the stretch.
Northwestern has been nothing short of a disappointment this season. they made the tournament last year and started this season ranked in the top 25. They soon fell out of the top 25 after starting the season 3-2. The Wildcats have been plagued by injuries all season long which has accounted for their inconsistent play. The one game of theirs I attended this year was probably the worst basketball I have ever seen played in my life.
Michigan State is going for their tenth win in a row. They have gotten hot at the right time and show no signs of slowing down. They should certainly be ranked number 1 in the country, but I’m sure they don’t care about rankings when they’re beating teams left and right. This is a team to be reckon with come tournament time. Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson are both incredible athletes and are a huge reason this team is in the position they are in right now. Bridges had a game winning three against Purdue last Saturday and Jaren Jackson had 27 points in the team’s win against Minnesota on Tuesday night. These two are top NBA talents and will help any team they go to. As for now, they will focus their talents on putting a beatdown on the Wildcats Saturday.
The Wildcats have had an extremely unfortunate season. They don’t seem to have the same offensive rhythm as they did last year, but their defense has still performed up to par as they only allow 65.9 points per game. Northwestern has performed well at home this season, securing 12 of their 15 wins on the season at the Allstate Arena. Northwestern played Rutgers well in their last game forcing the game to go into overtime, but then seemingly fell apart and allowed Rutgers to win the game 67-58. Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey are the two top scorers for Northwestern and will need to step up in this game if they want to have any chance at derailing the Michigan State freight train.
Keys to the Game
Michigan State: Own the glass. Northwestern is an undersized team compared to Michigan State. The length of Jaren Jackson Jr and Miles Bridges alone give them a huge advantage over most teams in the rebounding category. In Michigan State’s loss against Duke early in the season they were heavily out rebounded and in their two losses since then, they haven’t blown either team out of the water in the rebounding category. Michigan State sees success when they can let their athletes thrive. Being able to own the rebounding battle will allow MSU to limit the second chance points of Northwestern.
Northwestern: Control the pace of the game. Northwestern is extremely effective when they get to control the tempo of the game. They don’t allow many points on defense when they play at home because they are able to take control of the pace. The defense is able to play more efficiently and get more stops if they can slow their opponent down. Michigan State doesn’t have the fastest moving offense at all times, but they have some firepower to unleash if they need to.
Michigan State should take care of business and keep their win streak alive. The talent on the side of the Spartans is enough to warrant this prediction, but so is the motivation of Miles Bridges. Bridges decided to come back to school for another year after not winning a title last season. He easily could have gone to the NBA to make millions, but he saw the Freshman class coming in and knew there was potential. He isn’t taking anything for granted this season and wants to be the one to cut down the net in April.