College Basketball Game Preview: No. 6 Michigan State Travels to Northwestern
No. 6 Michigan State (15-2, 4-0) travels to Evanston on Saturday, to play the Northwestern Wildcats (11-5, 1-3). The Spartans haven’t lost since Nov. 15th.
During that stretch, the Spartans have won 15 straight games, the second-best single-season streak under Tom Izzo, only second to the 1999 streak of 22.
The Spartans are continuing a pleasant trend of being unselfish with the basketball. The team ranks 14th in the nation with 16.8 assists per game. Against Iowa, the Spartans passed the ball well and found the open man often.
That led to MSU shooting 10-of-18 from three-point range, a season best.
Northwestern is coming off two tough losses. Against Illinois, guard Drew Crawford drove to the lane and attempted a game-winning shot, only to have it blocked as time expired.
Against Michigan, the Wildcats went to overtime. After being fouled with less than a second left, Alex Marcotullio had a chance to shoot three free throws. Make all three, and Northwestern and Michigan go to a second overtime. Marcotullio missed the first one and Northwestern proceeded to lose a second straight heartbreaker.
The Wildcat offense is run strictly through Jon Shurna and Drew Crawford. Shurna averages 18.9 points per game, while Crawford averages 17.4. If Michigan State can stop either of them, the Spartans will have a very good chance to win and make it 16 straight.
Senior Draymond Green continues his superb campaign averaging 15.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game.
Sophomore guard Keith Appling has done a tremendous job taking over point guard duties. The Detroit native is averaging 12.6 points, and 3.9 assists per game, while only committing 2 turnovers per game. Pretty good numbers for someone that has only been playing point guard since the beginning of summer.
Michigan State’s bench scored 37 points in the rout over Iowa. Izzo must love what he is seeing from his bench play, especially with Brandan Kearney and Alex Gauna emerging. Freshman guard Travis Trice got out of a funk against Iowa, making two three-pointers and playing aggressively on both ends of the court.
If the Spartans aren’t looking ahead to their matchup with rival Michigan, then the Spartans should come out with a victory.
Tipoff is at 3 pm ET.
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