Other stories filed under Briefs
Head to head: Michigan State edition
February 22, 2019
How do you sum up a rivalry? Leaving it all out on the court to make the opponent despise you even more than they already do. Not many rivalries does this better than Michigan versus Michigan State. This season is no different.
Michigan State comes into this matchup with a 22-5 (13-3 in the Big Ten) record. Michigan has a 24-3 (13-3 in the Big Ten) record. They have a lot of quality wins that help them in the “NET” rankings, which is a new ranking system this season.
These rankings are great and all, but how has the season gone so far for the Spartans?
Head coach Tom Izzo likes to start off the season tough, this year was no exception. The squad took on the Kansas Jayhawks and the difficulty continued in tournaments such as the Las Vegas Invitational and conference play.
A recent three game conference losing streak has them still tied for first place with the Wolverines, who won their last game on the road at the Barn vs. Minnesota. The Spartans’ big problem is depth, which wasn’t the case at the beginning of the season
They’ve been hit with the highly contagious injury bug. Losing guard Joshua Langford and center Nick Ward leaves 30 points on the bench, which is valuable scoring for a team that is one of the highest scoring teams in the country.
All of these injuries leave it up to one man carrying the load, and that is star point guard Cassius Winston.
Winston, the junior from Detroit has many flashes of Magic Johnson in his game. Always keeping his head up to look for open shots and taking it to the rim himself when there’s no better options.
This was shown in Wednesday’s matchup with Rutgers. Winston brought the green and white squad back from an 11-point second half deficit, scoring 28 points on the night.
Winston will match up with junior guard Zavier Simpson, who has a highly effective hook shot that causes trouble for even tall defenders.
Ward was a force in the post that will be missed for the rest of the season. With sophomore forward and Grand Rapids native Xavier Tillman being inexperienced, having his second start being against Michigan big man John Teske will be a tough test.
Adjusting to a new rotation that brings in Thomas Kithier will take time, which will affect the game drastically.
It’s said that home court is important in the Big Ten. Crisler Center in Ann Arbor is a hostile environment for any team challenging the Wolverines. This in my opinion, will turn out to be the difference in this game.
However, with vulnerable defense by Michigan in the final few minutes, Sparty takes the game with a valiant effort and clutch 3-point shot from Kenny Goins.
SCORE PREDICTION: 62-60 Michigan State on 10-2 run in the waning minutes of the game.