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No. 10 Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats men’s basketball preview

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 10 Michigan State Spartans return to the road and Big Ten action on Sunday afternoon when the team faces off against the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. It will mark MSU’s first true road game in almost a month when the Spartans defeated Minnesota 75-67 on Dec. 8.

The game tomorrow marks the first for NU since a Dec. 20 win over Illinois-Springfield. The past two games for Northwestern have been canceled due to COVID-19 issues among opponents’ programs. Michigan State, meanwhile, has played just two games over the past 20 days, but Sunday’s contest kicks off the first in a three-game set spanning just seven days (Nebraska on Jan. 5 and Michigan on Jan. 8).

As for Northwestern’s schedule, the Wildcats have been impressive in early action this season compared to preseason prediction. NU had a close loss to Providence (No. 41 in KenPom), falling 77-72, as part of the Legends Classic, as well as a 77-73 loss at Wake Forest (No. 64 in KenPom). In the Legends Classic, Northwestern also beat Georgia 78-62 and won at Maryland 67-61. The win over the Terrapins came just two days after Mark Turgeon and UMD parted ways, though. For mutual opponent comparison, Northwestern also beat High Point 95-60 in a home win on Nov. 12.

This season, the Wildcats’ offense has run through senior forward Pete Nance. Nance ranks No. 10 in the Big Ten in scoring with 16.3 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounds (8.0 rpg) and blocks (2.0 bpg). Nance is one of four players for NU averaging double-figures, though.

Michigan State fans will be unhappy to know that junior guard Boo Buie remains on the roster for Northwestern. The past two games in Evanston have seen Buie go off for career-highs in both contests, scoring an average of 28 points. So far this season, Buie is second on the team in scoring with 14.9 points and leads the team in assists with 5.7 assists per game.

Guard Chase Audige is averaging 11.0 points per game and center Ryan Young is at 10.6 points per game to round out the double-figure scorers on offense. The offense is also efficient with ball security, as the team averages just 8.7 turnovers per game and shares the ball well with 19.1 assists per game (eighth-best in the country).

As a team, Northwestern’s 79.0 points per game is the fourth-best scoring offense in the Big Ten, and the team leads the league in scoring defense at 60.8 points per game. In fact, NU has held five opponents to 60 or fewer points this season.

No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (8-2, 1-0 Big Ten)

When: 2:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. CST

Where: Welsh Ryan Arena - Evanston, Illinois

TV: Big Ten Network
Online Broadcast: Fox Sports Live/Fox Sports App

Announcers: Chris Vosters (play-by-play), Robbie Hummel (analyst)

Radio: TCF Bank Spartan Media Network
Lansing: WMMQ (94.9 FM)/WJIM (1240 AM)
Detroit: WJR (760 AM)
Affiliates: 27 affiliates listed at
Play-by-play: Will Tieman
Analyst: Matt Steigenga

Online Radio:, and TuneIn App.

Sirius/XM/Internet: Channel 84 (Sirius) and Channel 84 (SiriusXM App)

Location: Evanston, Illinois
Arena: Welsh Ryan Arena (8,117 capacity)
All-Time Series: MSU leads 93-39

Go Green!