Game # 26 Preview: Michigan State @ Ohio State

On Tuesday night at the Value Center Arena in Columbus Ohio, the only thing the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes will be thinking about is winning. For the Buckeyes, it’s about getting back on track after being knocked of the undefeated mountain this weekend against a tough and very promisign Wisconsin team. For the Spartans, their March Madness life can only thrive on wins. For thirteen straight years, Michigan State has found itself playing in the field of 65.

Now their hopes dwindle on every single remaining ballgame. At 6-6 in the Big Ten, and 14-10 overall, the team that has made it to two straight final fours more than needs a win on the road against one of the best teams in the country.

They’re depending on it.

Starting Lineups:

Breaking Down The Spartans:

It’s been a rough go so far this season in East Lansing, as the Spartans find themselves in a territory they are not familiar with. So many factors have contributed to the Sparans struggle, including inconsistency, injury and obviously the dismissals of Korie Lucious and Chris Allen have not helped a team that was once known for it’s depth.

But the Spartans are on the upswing after a dominating performance against the Penn State Nittany Lions. As we know in this game, a team can get hot in a heartbeat. The Spartans possess all the tools to dig them selves out of this hole, and head coach Tom Izzo has been here before.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, nor should they,” Izzo said after Thursday’s win, “but now we get to feel good about something and see if we can go down to Ohio State and see where we’re at.”

One player to watch if healthy will be Draymond Green. The up and coming sixth man should get the start after his first triple double as a Spartan. His play as been instrumental in getting back in the groove. The junior has seen 30 or more minutes for most of the season and will be counting on at the swing position to move the ball out or kick it into the post.

Fellow junior forward Delvon Roe suffered a deep knee bruise in his last action against Penn State and is questionable for Tuesday’s action. If he does play, then no more damage could be done to the knee. Head coach Tom Izzo doesn’t believe that he will be able to provide 20 minutes on the court, but Roe has played hurt plenty of times. The Ohio native is averaging seven points and five points per game.

Center Derrick Nix will most likely get his chance to guard star freshman Jared Sullinger. Yeah, that’s right. The big man who was a tipping the scales at over 300. Yes, the dude who nearly left the team he begged to be on.  I like Sullinger’s chances inside on Tuesday, but Nix thinks he can hang with the big man.

“He’s a really good player, one of the best in the country,” Nix said. “I’ve just got to, if I get in, play him hard, play smart, and just try to stop him. Rebound, sprint, defend.”

Really? That’s all the big mouth has to say? His stats really haven’t talked either, so I guess it all makes sense.

This right here is where the Buckeyes can win the ballgame. With a big rotation, unlike against Wisconsin. Even if the Spartans use their perimeter lineup, the Buckeyes have to trust in the defense of Sullinger and Lauderdale/Thomas.

Match-Ups:

In the  back court, at first glance, it would seem that the Spartans have the advantage both controlling the ball and making plays. Kalin Lucas is one of the better point guards in college basketball, but since having to take over for this team offensively, there are times where he has become ineffective. His role as a scorer in a sense has gotten in the way of his production overall. His assists are down nearly one a game from his peak as a Spartan.

But he can flat out shoot the rock. In his last two games he has put up 20+ points. In his last outing, he put up 7 three point attempts.

He will most likely be covered by freshman Aaron Craft at points, and it will be interesting to see how Craft responds after somewhat of a letdown guarding Jordan Taylor against Wisconsin.

On the other side of the back court, Durrell Summers will look to drive to the hoop, create traffic and reak havoc for the Ohio State backcourt. David Lighty and William Buford are just the athletic type guards you go to in hopes of defending well off ball screens and picks.

If the Buckeyes go big though, most likely the job will go to Lighty. Spartan guard Keith Appling could see a lot of time on the floor simply for defense. His offense has been really spotty, but if the Buckeye back court is lighting up the floor, then Appling without a doubt will be a stopgap.

In the front court, if all things work out the way they should, Jared Sullinger will have a field day. Can you imagine if Delvon Roe can’t get into this ballgame? The post will be wide open for the most part and for the Buckeyes taking.

One interesting match-up could be fellow Buckeye  freshman Deshaun Thomas inside against anyone who comes in to guard the post.

One thing will be certain, the Spartan starters will be logging a lot of minutes, so it just might make sense for Thad Matta and company to run the floor more than usual.

Prediction:

Despite both team’s flaws on the court, when it comes down to it, these two team’s only battle this season should be an interesting one.

Both need this win for morale and both need  this win to prove something. The Buckeyes want to stay out of the losing column. The Spartans can’t afford another loss unless they want to head to the N.I.T.

It will be a thrilling game all the way to the wire, but I believe the Buckeyes have too many play makers not to win this game.

Final: 75-69 Buckeyes

Topics: Aaron Craft, David Lighty, Delvon Roe, Derrick Nix, Draymond Green, Durrell Summers, Jared Sullinger, Jon Diebler, Kalin Lucas, Michigan State Basketball, Ohio State Basketball, Tom Izzo, William Buford

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