Michigan State takes on Madison and the Grateful Red on Tuesday night, and with a win the Spartans take another step towards their goal of winning the Big Ten title. Winners of ten straight, Tom Izzo's team has gotten the job done thanks to four players averaging in at least ten points per game. Point guard Kalin Lucas has played better basketball since being benched earlier in the season due to leadership issues, and forwards Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green have been essential pieces to the puzzle as has Durrell Summers. Morgan should be motivated to produce given his performance in the Spartans' 79-70 win over Northwestern, having played just sixteen foul-plagued minutes before fouling out.
As for the Badgers, who have lost just five Big Ten home games during the Bo Ryan era, they'll rely on senior Trevon Hughes, whose workload grew when forward Jon Leuer went down with a broken wrist. In the first meeting this season the Spartans did a very good job of slowing the point guard down, holding him to seven points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field. With Leuer (21 points, seven boards in MSU's 54-47 win) out Hughes cannot afford to shoot at that rate if the Badgers are to win. Two players to watch for the home team: Keaton Nankivil (21.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg in his last two games) and Jordan Taylor (16.5 ppg in his last two games).
If those two can play at the level they have been this will be a game they can win late. While the Badgers will look to limit the number of possessions (they average fifty-nine possessions per game), they must rebound (rebounding margin: minus-1.9; Michigan State: plus-9.3) and run their offense efficiently (Michigan State leads the Big Ten in defensive efficiency) in order to win this important contest. Other games to keep an eye on include Ole Miss visiting Kentucky and Seton Hall visiting Villanova in two games that the road teams can really use for their NCAA Tournament hopes. And if Miami wants to even sniff the conversation for an at-large bid they'd be well-served to win at Wake Forest.
7p ESPN Mississippi at Kentucky
7p ESPN2 Miami at Wake Forest
7p ESPNU Seton Hall at Villanova
7p BTN Michigan at Northwestern
9p ESPN Michigan State at Wisconsin
9p ESPNU Northeastern at Delaware
10p CBS-College Air Force at San Diego St
7p Providence at Syracuse
7p Rhode Island at La Salle
8p Kansas St at Nebraska
Michigan State over Wisconsin: The Badgers are close to unbeatable at the Kohl Center in Big Ten games under Bo Ryan. But if there was any team in the conference with the ability to leave Madison with a win it would be the Spartans. Raymar Morgan and glue guy Draymond Green make the big plays late at Michigan State escapes with the win.