Matchup: Michigan (13-8) @ Michigan State (14-7)
When: 1:00 p.m., CBS
Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
What to Watch For:
1. Michigan’s lineup – tore up from the floor up: Having already lost all-everything forward Caris LeVert to season-ending foot surgery, the Wolverines have now been trying to cope with a nagging foot injury to starting point guard Derrick Walton. According to the Detroit News:
Coach John Beilein said Tuesday Walton has been overcompensating for the toe injury, which likely led to a foot sprain. Beilein added that Walton would have more tests this week to determine the extent of the injury and Walton would rest the foot, getting around campus on a foot scooter this week.
Foot scooters usually aren’t a great sign. Walton was listed as questionable as late as this morning but even if he plays, one must imagine he’ll be operating at a sub-standard level.
2. It’s Branden Dawson’s birthday, and he’s been balling: Dawson, MSU’s senior forward, is arguably playing the best basketball of his career, racking up five double-doubles in the first seven games of Big Ten play. His 10.1 rebounds per contest is tops in the conference. U-M’s largely inexperienced front court will have their hands full as they try to handle a 22-year-old who loves getting up and down the floor.
3. Wolverines young guns get their first taste of the rivalry: Count Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, and Mark Donnal all amongst those who have yet to taste the bitter in-state rivalry, let alone in hostile territory. Coach John Beilein is even bringing along the injured D.J. Wilson and Austin Hatch, just so they can see what this thing’s all about.
A lively Breslin Center may bring out the best in Michigan’s youth movement, or it may yield unforced errors and play generally consistent with inexperience. We’re leaning toward the latter. MSU’s seniors appear primed to even up their career record against the maize and blue this afternoon.