At the beginning of the college football season, Michigan State vs. Miami would have sounded like an intriguing bowl matchup. That may not be the case now, but Wednesday's clash between the two schools in basketball is certainly a matchup worth watching.
Both teams can run the floor, play solid defense, kill teams with guard play and feature solid athletes. This one may not always be the prettiest game, but it should be highly competitive.
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is always one of the highlights early in the college basketball season. Expect this game to live up to those expectations.
Where: BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, FL
When: Wednesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
Betting Line: TBD
Michigan State Injuries (via USA Today)
G Travis Trice, Head, Questionable
G Gary Harris, Shoulder, Questionable
F Kenny Kaminski, Shoulder, Out
Miami Injuries (via USA Today)
G Bishop Daniels, Hamstring, Questionable
What's At Stake?
For Miami, it's a chance to add a resume-building win. For Michigan State, it's just another game they're expected to win.
What They're Saying
Michigan State will surely be favored when the Spartans face Miami. But they could be getting a major boost with the expected return of guards Travis Trice and Gary Harris.
MSU (5-1) could use both guards for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against the Hurricanes (3-1), as witnessed in three often-unsightly home wins last week without them.
MSU coach Tom Izzo said he doesn't expect much more than 15 minutes from Trice in his first game back.
"It's gonna be definitely a plus for us," Izzo said, "but it's not gonna change everything overnight."
But it should help stabilize a perimeter group that misses the passing of Trice, the defense of Harris and the shooting and ballhandling of both. The Spartans committed 55 turnovers in their past three games, including 20 in Sunday's 63-60 escape of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Most Important Player to Watch: Keith Appling, Michigan State
The junior guard has done a little of everything for the Spartans thus far this season, averaging 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. And the Spartans have certainly needed him out on the court.
Thus far, these are the minutes he's played in Michigan State's first six wins: 38, 28, 40, 38, 38. To say the Spartans have leaned on their top star is an understatement.
He should get some relief when Trice and Harris return. But for now, Appling remains the most important player for Michigan State and the key player Miami must stop if they hope to win this game.
Key Matchup: Durand Scott vs. Keith Appling
No surprise that Appling would be included here, but Scott (15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.0 APG) is Miami's version of Appling and last year's top scorer for the Canes. His recent return from a three-game suspension gives Miami a major boost.
While Michigan State is too technically savvy and Miami has other scoring options to keep this from turning into a two-man battle, whoever comes out on top of this matchup will have the leg up. If either of these players has an off-night—namely Appling—it will be very tough for their side to win.
Michigan State may not be at 100 percent, but they still win this game, 67-63.
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