Tonight the Michigan Wolverines (13-12,6-7) will play host to the Michigan State Spartans (17-8, 8-4) at the Crisler Center (8 p.m. ET) for the second meeting this season. If the game is similar to the one played on Feb. 1, we are set to have another nail-biter. The youthful Wolverines took the Spartans down to the wire and then tied the game to send it into overtime. Michigan ran out of steam in the extra period and lost the game 76-66.
What: Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans
Where: Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: 9 p.m. ET
At A Glace
|RECORD||13-12 (6-7)||17-8 (8-4)|
Team Leaders (Active Only)
|PPG||Zak Irvin 13.4||Denzel Valentine 14.5|
|REBOUNDS||Zak Irvin 4.2||Branden Dawson 10.0|
|ASSISTS||Spike Albrecht 3.6||Travis Trice 5.4|
Michigan is coming into tonight’s game on a four-game losing streak, including two overtime losses without a single point scored. They have been outscored 36-9 in the three overtime games this year. Five days ago they lost to Illinois in one of those overtime battles, 64-52. I would imagine coach John Beilein is hoping to not play extra basketball tonight due to the lack of scoring and stamina his players have shown in the extra minutes. On the flip side, the Spartans are coming in as winners of four of their last five games, including a big win over Ohio State this past Saturday.
Once again the injury plagued Wolverines will be without starters Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. Without its two top playmakers, Michigan has been looking for someone to step up consistently and make shots. In the last game against the Spartans, Michigan guards Spike Albrecht and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each scored 18 points and played solid basketball in the absence of the starters. Michigan is now led in scoring and rebounding by guard Zak Irvin with 13.4 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game. Albrecht leads the team in assist with 3.6 per game.
As for the Spartans, they are led in scoring by guard Denzel Valentine with 14.5 points per contest. He was the big hero on Saturday, knocking down the final shot to beat the Buckeyes. Senior guard Travis Trice adds 13.4 points a game along with a team leading 5.4 assists. State’s leading rebounder, on a team that leads the Big Ten with 39 rebounds per game, is Branden Dawson, who has 10 per game.
Michigan needs to win this game to have any hopes of playing in the NCAA tournament. If they get off to a good start by making some high percentage shots and build the confidence back up in these young guys, I believe they can win. Moving the ball around and not settling for three-pointers every trip down the court will be essential. On the defensive side, contain Valentine, who has the hot hand coming into the game for Michigan State. I expect a hard-fought rivalry game in this 176th meeting between these two teams.
FYI: Michigan leads the series 97-76 and has won six out of the last 10.
Chad Finley is a contributor for thebighousereport.com. Follow him on Twitter @finfive1.