Maryland is riding a 4-game win streak into Breslin. In contrast, Michigan State is struggling to find itself after losing 5 of their last 7 games.
In a crowded Big Ten, where most teams are clumped around .500 in the league, this game could be a major factor in Big Ten Tournament seeding and who sits on the bubble for NCAA Tournament consideration.
Game Time: Tuesday, February 7th at 9:00pm (US East Coast Time)
Watch the game: ESPN2
Comment and Follow Live at the GAME THREAD HERE (live at 5pm)
Some basics to sound like a pro:
Michigan State entered February with some optimism. A slate of high level competition including Purdue, Indiana and Illinois had not gone well. The optimism came from getting Senior Malik Hall back in the rotation earlier than expected.
Unfortunately, a lot of that optimism seemed to die on the Madison Square Garden hardwood, as Rutgers handed the Spartans a loss that felt demoralizing.
Michigan State’s leaders could not hit a basket, including Malik Hall’s 1 for 9 performance.
MSU can clearly play defense when their entire team is bought in. Even allowing for other team’s big men to go nuts in many games, MSU is still ranked 32 in adjusted defensive efficiency (according to KenPom, and holds opponents to an average of 66 points per game.
The problem recently has been the offense. Even holding an opponent to low scoring outputs Michigan State is struggling to find points. This is confounding on a roster full of good percentage shooters.
Michigan State will need to find a way to match Maryland’s defensive intensity and score some points against one of the better 3-point defending teams in the conference.
University of Maryland
The Terrapins are coming off an 81-46 destruction of Minnesota on the road. The Maryland squad has won 5 of their last 6, with their only loss a 3 point heartbreaker to top ranked Purdue on the road.
After early season struggles, this Maryland squad has shown they can hang with the best of the best of the Big Ten. On paper they are very similar to Michigan State. They play relatively low scoring games, with physical defense, and defend the three point well.
Their challenge will be competing on the glass, as they struggle to rebound as well as Michigan State does.
The difference maker for Maryland could be Sophomore 6’9” Julian Reese. Reese has scored in double figures in 6 of the last 8 games, and is the type of physical offense MSU has struggled to defend all season.
BBD: 64-61 MSU win (and it will not be pretty)
O: 68-56 MSU Win