As a quick note before we get to the preview, hello everyone. I’m sure many of you recognize me from the comments. I’ve officially joined the writing staff here at TOC, and will be picking up women’s basketball coverage along with other writing from time to time. Hope you enjoy my writings moving forward, and Go Green!
Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans
Date: Sunday, February 23rd
Time: 5:00 pm EST
Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan
2019-20 Record: 17-9 (8-7, T-6th in standings)
Mascot: Ugly yellow and blue rodent
Head Coach: Kim Barnes Arico, eighth season (173-94 record, 74-59 Big Ten)
How To Watch: BTN
Radio: TuneIn to stream Spartan Sports Radio
The Wolverines are coming into this matchup with a season sweep on their mind along with the hopes of a two-game win streak, while the Spartans are hoping to get revenge over their rival and extend their three-game win streak. After entering the season ranked and playing well, MSU got bit by the injury bug and has struggled down the stretch in conference play. They’ve had to resort to eight different starting lineups this season and will likely be staying home come March. Preseason All-Big Ten selection Shay Colley has only played six games this season due to a knee injury. Her last game was against Indiana on December 28th. The Indiana game was also the last time that Victoria Gaines played before tearing her MCL. Mardrekia Cook was also lost for the season after tearing her Achilles’ tendon in practice on January 29th. MSU was able to get McCutcheon, Ozment and Ayrault back for the game against Northwestern on February 10th. Meanwhile the Wolverines sit firmly on the bubble and hope to make the NCAA tournament.
As for the first matchup of the season between the teams, MSU dropped the road game in Ann Arbor 89-69. Naz Hamilton scored 21 and Amy Dilk scored 23 to lead the Wolverines, and the Spartans committed 18 turnovers.
Hamilton, a sophomore forward, leads Michigan in scoring with 16.6 points per game while shooting 56.8 percent from the field. Her shooting percentage is good for second in the conference and twenty-first nationally. Hamilton also leads the team in boards with 8.5. Dilk, also a sophomore guard, is second in scoring with 11.4 points per game and is averaging 37.2 percent from three, but only averages 1.7 attempts per game. Dilk leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game.
Michigan has three players averaging at least ten points and four rebounds per game in Hillmon (16.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Dilk (11.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Akienreh Johnson (10.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg). The Wolverines are shooting 45.4 percent from the floor this season, good for fourth in the Big Ten and 19th nationally.
As for the Spartans, Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon moved up to 21st in career scoring after the Purdue game, their most recent opponent, and sits just 26 points behind 20th place Rene Haynes. She also has 560 assists, and sits just 14 shy of the all-time school record of 574 held by current assistant coach Kristin Haynie (2001-05). The Purdue win gave Suzy Merchant her 134th conference win, tying her for eight place in all time conference wins with Ohio State’s Nancy Darsch.
The Spartans are also 10-2 at home this season, so hopefully that gives them the advantage they need to get the win over Michigan. Even if Michigan wins, though, the Spartans lead the overall series with the Wolverines, 72-20, including winning seven of the last nine meetings. Last season, Michigan State swept the series. The Spartans are 35-7 at the Breslin Center against the Wolverines, including a 74-64 on Senior Day last season. Michigan State’s lone senior Jenna Allen scored team-high 18 points. The Spartans have captured the last three wins in East Lansing. The last time Michigan earned a victory at the Breslin Center was a 72-59 win in 2015.
So let’s go State!