NO. 12 MICHIGAN STATE (19-5, 8-3 Big Ten) AT NO. 3 OHIO STATE (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten)
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Michigan State 7 (No. 2 Big Ten)
Ohio State 5 (No. 1 Big Ten)
Line: Ohio St -10.5 (127.5 o/u)
Michigan State Players to Watch: F Draymond Green, 6-7 Sr. (15.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.6 apg); F Branden Dawson, 6-6 Fr. (8.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 57.7% FG); G Keith Appling, 6-1 So. (11.8 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.3 rpg). Dawson is shooting 26-for-42 (61.9 percent) over his last five games, including a 5-of-8, 12-point performance in Wednesday’s 77-57 win over Penn State.
Ohio State Players to Watch: F Jared Sullinger, 6-9 So. (17.4 ppg, 9 rpg, 57.6% FG); G William Buford, 6-6 Sr. (15.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.1 apg); F Deshaun Thomas, 6-7 So. (14.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 53.9% FG). Buford, who is second all-time (behind only David Leighty) with 111 wins at OSU, came up big with 29 points, seven rebounds and two assists in Tuesday’s 87-84 win over Purdue.
Storylines: Michigan State looks to move into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with a win Saturday. Ohio State is back on top of the league standings after six consecutive wins and is a game ahead of the Spartans.
Key Stats: The Spartans rank ninth in the nation in field goal defense, allowing 37.9 percent from the field this season. They are third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, giving up 59 points per game. Ohio State is second in the league in scoring at 76.9 points per game, second in scoring defense at 56.6 and first in scoring margin at plus-20.3, which leads the nation. The Spartans lead the Big Ten and are third in America with a plus-10.8 rebounding margin. The Buckeyes are second at plus-7.5. MSU is 4-3 in true road games this season, dropping their last three at Northwestern (81-74 on Jan. 14), Michigan (60-59 on Jan. 17) and Illinois (42-41 on Jan. 31). The Buckeyes are 17-0 at home this season and have won 40 straight in Value City Arena. Their last home loss came Feb. 17, 2009, 60-57 to Purdue. The two teams meet again on March 4 for the Big Ten finale.
The Bottom Line: It’s hard to find an area in which the Spartans have any significant advantage. Buckeyes easy.
The Pick: Ohio State 73, Michigan State 62