This Saturday, Michigan State will square off with a surging Michigan team that is reinvigorated after Mitch McGary's exclusion from the lineup. The Spartans must focus on a few key areas of emphasis in order to gain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
However, it will be challenging.
The contest will feature the two final conference unbeatens that are standing alone on top of the pedestal. And both squads have taken similar paths.
The in-state adversaries have played exceptionally well without their injured All-American caliber big men, with the versatility and skill of their respective backcourts fueling them to victories. The Spartans and Wolverines have won a combined 19 straight games.
But something’s got to give.
Recent trends in the matchup have tended to favor the home team, as they have prevailed in the last five matchups between the foes. But despite Tom Izzo’s fantastic track record against the maize and blue, it’s the Wolverines that are 4-2 in the series’ past six games.
The 21st-ranked Wolverines will be faced with the arduous task of containing a high-powered backcourt in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, which several of the Spartans’ previous opponents failed at doing. Conversely, Michigan State will battle a scorching Michigan team that has effectively turned around their season, led by a confident Nik Stauskas.
Sparty must focus on a few key areas in order to improve to 8-0 in the Big Ten. Here they are.