The Michigan Wolverines take on their in-state rival the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night in the first of two games this year between them. The teams split the pair of contests last year. (Photo : Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gcfairch/4405719234/))
The fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines are in Lansing to face the #8 Michigan State Spartans in Big Ten Conference Basketball on Tuesday at 9 pm EST on ESPN. The ESPN3 live stream is available only in Alaska and Hawaii.
Michigan is 3-2 this season against ranked teams, with its most recent win at the behest of the #10 Ohio State Buckeyes. Only the last loss to Wisconsin came against an unranked opponent for the Blue. The Wolverines have alternated losses and wins for the last three games after winning 20 of the first 21 games.
Trey Burke is still the leading scorer for Michigan, averaging 18.2 points per game. Burke also leads the team in assists per game (7.1). Mitch mcGary averages more rebounds per game (6.1) than anyone on the team. Jordan Morgan is the best pure shooter (.626 percentage) and Nik Stauskas has the most effective three-point shot (.476).
The Wolverines lost an overtime thriller in Wisconsin on Saturday, as the Badgers defeated Michigan 65-62. Ben Brust hit a half-court three-pointer to tie the game as time expired in the second half, and Wisconsin used the second life to upend its Big Ten rival. Michigan had just two free throws all game and was outshot in both field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage. The Badgers blocked five Wolverines shots.
Michigan State enters the battle on a three-game win streak. Sparty is 3-3 in games against ranked teams and has a handful of those games left (including tonight). All four of Michigan State's losses have come to then-ranked or currently-ranked teams, including Minnesota and then-and-now-#1 Indiana. Keith Appling has a team-high 14.1 points per game for the Spartans, and also leads in assists per game (4.1). Adreian Payne is the leading rebounder (6.8 pg), shooter (.590 field goal percentage) and three-point shooter (.538 in that category). The Spartans topped Purdue in Indiana 78-65 on Saturday. Branden Dawson's 20 led the team over the Boilermakers, and Denzel Valentine added six boards and four helpers off of the bench.
Michigan and Michigan State split the two games last season, as the Wolverines made the one-point upset on January 17 and the Spartans won by ten points in Ann Arbor on February 5. in the first match-up, MSU was ninth in the country and U of M was 20th. The second time around, Michigan State was ninth again and the Wolverines were 23rd.