Who: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans
Where: Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan
Time: 12:00 P.M. on ESPN
This is a major statement game for both schools in the teeth of conference play. In their only meeting of the season, the Spartans will look to finally gain some momentum against a top tier Big Ten and nationally ranked team in Ohio State. Michigan State needs this win to not only move up in the standings in the conference, but to improve their resume in hopes of making the NCAA Tournament for an 18th consecutive season.
Expect some good shooting on both sides, as guards Travis Trice, Bryn Forbes, and Denzel Valentine will need to be sharp and mistake-free for a full 40 minutes. Both Forbes and Valentine shoot over 40% from 3-point range and Trice is just below that at 37.1%.
Look for forward Branden Dawson to do what he does best, which is overpower in the paint, rebound and clean up any missed shot. The two big men for Michigan State, forwards Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling, might arguably be their most important players, as they will have to compete for position down low against the big men of Ohio State. As long as they stay out of early foul trouble and can help Dawson rebound and keep the Buckeyes from getting second and third chances, Michigan State has a good chance to pull out a victory.
The biggest news story coming from this game will be the return of Ohio State forward Marc Loving. Loving was suspended by the school’s athletic department for 3 games for undisclosed reasons. Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta said Thursday that he will be returning to the lineup, but hasn’t said how much he will play. Loving is the second-leading scorer for Ohio State, averaging 11.3 PPG and while shooting 53% from beyond the arc, which is best in the Big Ten.