Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
Ohio State 8 (No. 2 Big Ten)
Michigan State 4 (No. 1 Big Ten)
Line: Michigan St -3 (110 o/u)
Ohio State Players to Watch: F Jared Sullinger, 6-9 So. (16.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 54.9% FG); G William Buford, 6-6 Sr. (15.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.9 apg); F Deshaun Thomas, 6-7 So. (15.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 53% FG). Sullinger – one of 30 Naismith finalists for the outstanding player in college basketball – hit a game-winner with 3.1 seconds left to lift Ohio State to a 75-73 win at Northwestern. The game winner came at the end of an 8-for-15, 22-point, 18-rebound, 3-assist, 2-block performance.
Michigan State Players to Watch: F Draymond Green, 6-7 Sr. (16.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.6 apg); G Keith Appling, 6-1 So. (11.5 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3 rpg); F Branden Dawson, 6-6 Fr. (8.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 57.2% FG). Green – also on the Naismith list – scored over half of the Spartans’ points (29-of-55) as MSU’s 7-game winning streak came to an end. Green went 10-for-17 from the field. The rest of the Spartans went 10-for-34.
Storylines: Michigan State leads the Buckeyes and Michigan by a game in the Big Ten and can clinch the league title outright with a win on Sunday. OSU, which has won the last two Big Ten regular-season championships, can claim a share of the title with a win.
Keys: Michigan State started the Buckeyes on a rough stretch with a 58-48 victory in Columbus on Feb. 11. In the loss, OSU shot just 26 percent from the field and made just two of its 15 3-point shots. Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 74.7 points per game; Michigan State is fourth at 71.9. The Buckeyes and Spartans trail only national-leader Wisconsin in scoring defense. Both give up just a touch over 58 points per game. MSU leads the Big Ten in field goal defense at 37.5 percent. The Buckeyes are third, holding opponents to 40.6. Michigan State is third in the nation in rebounding defense, out-rebounding its opponents 1,163 to 886. Ohio State is third. The Buckeyes average 36.7 rebounds and give up just 29.1. That’s good for eighth in the nation. OSU trails only national-leading Purdue with a plus-3.8 turnover ratio. Michigan State ranks 10th in the Big Ten at minus-0.1. The Buckeyes are 6-4 in true road games this season. The Spartans are 17-0 at home and have won 18 straight overall at Breslin.
The Bottom Line: This one is really hard to predict. Ohio State looked really good for most of the Northwestern game. Will the Buckeyes ride that momentum to a win on Sunday? Was Michigan State’s blowout loss at Indiana an anomaly or is it the beginning of a draught? If you’re a gambler, stay far away from this game.
The Pick: Michigan State 69, Ohio State 67
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