Game: No.22 Michigan State (25-8, 12-6 Big Ten) vs. No.8 Michigan (25-7, 15-3 Big Ten)
Date: March 16, 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
Although the Penn State Nittany Lions had their season end on Thursday with a loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to Minnesota, we here at VBR are still fans of college basketball, especially the postseason. While there won’t be any Penn State games to watch during the madness that is March, there will be plenty of great action. The Big Ten Championship on Sunday presents a great matchup between two of the biggest rivals in the conference when the Michigan Wolverines meet up with the Michigan State Spartans.
Today’s game will mark the first meeting of the two schools in the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines won both games against the Spartans in the regular season this year.
Michigan State used to dominate the series against its rivals, but recently it’s been Michigan that’s dominated, winning six of the last eight meetings between the two schools.
In the first meeting this year on January 25, the Wolverines got great games from Nik Stauskas and Derrick Walton Jr. Both players poured in 19 points in the 80-75 victory. On February 23 Michigan got the 79-70 victory at home with the help of 25 points from Stauskas.
Michigan has been led by its star guard Stauskas all year and that trend continued on Saturday when he scored 18 points and made four three-pointers in the 72-69 victory over Ohio State in the semifinal game. He’s averaging 17.5 points a game this season. The Wolverines also got a good game from their second-leading soccer on the season, sophomore guard Chris LeVert, who scored 17 against the Buckeyes.
For Michigan State it’s been a bit of a trying season dealing with injuries. Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson were the most recent to miss time, but are now both back. Payne is the second-leading scorer for the Spartans this year and at six-foot-ten, he’s a force to deal with down low and one of the top rebounders in the conference.
The Spartans are led in scoring by guard Gary Harris, who also missed some time this season. He’s averages 17.2 points a game and had huge games against Michigan this season, scoring 27 and 21 points against the Wolverines.
In the semifinal matchup on Saturday against Wisconsin, Michigan State came away with the 83-75 victory. All five starters scored in double-digits for the Spartans, led by Payne’s 18.
The winner of today’s game could be in the mix for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which begins this week.
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