Bitter rivals Michigan and Michigan State will meet for the Big Ten Championship on Sunday. The Michigan State Spartans swept the Michigan Wolverines in the regular season, but the stakes will be raised in this game. NCAA Tournament seeding is on the line when these two bitter rivals meet up for the third time this season.
Michigan State tied for the Big Ten regular-season title with Purdue with a 16-4 record. The Spartans are 27-6 overall this season, and could potentially wrap up a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a win. Michigan got off to a hot start this season but stumbled a bit down the stretch. The Wolverines finished the conference slate with a 15-5 record, and are 28-5 on the season. Michigan State is a 2.0 point favorite over their rival in this game.
Michigan Wins With Defense
The Michigan Wolverines aren’t the most explosive offensive team in the nation this season, but they have been winning games with their defense. Michigan is allowing just 58.7 points per game this season, which is the second-best defensive average in the country. The Wolverines are scoring just over 70 points per game, but they have a chance to put up a ton of points if they are making shots.
Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ignas Brazdeikis leads the Wolverines with 15.0 points per game this season but has struggled against the Michigan State Spartans. Brazdeikis has the ability to score both inside and out, but the Spartans have a ton of size to throw at him. Point guard Xavier Simpson has chipped in with 9.1 points and 6.4 assists per night but will have a tough test against Cassius Winston. If the Wolverines are going to win this game, they are going to have to make some shots.
Ward Back For Spartans
The Michigan State Spartans have been without center Nick Ward for the last few weeks, but he is back in action in this tournament. Ward is averaging 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season and gives Michigan State another weapon on offense. The Spartans are averaging close to 80 points per game this season and will look to speed up the tempo against the Wolverines. Michigan State has had little trouble finding offense against Michigan in the first two meetings.
Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston has been an absolute monster this season for Michigan State. Winston is averaging 18.9 points and 7.5 assists per game this season and will look to get the Spartans offense on a roll in this game. Head coach Tom Izzo wants his team to push the tempo on offense, and the Spartans are making more than 38 percent of their three-point attempts. Michigan State looks like a team that is ready to make a run in March.
Michigan State Completes Sweep of Michigan
It is always hard to beat a team three different times in a single season, but Michigan State is just better than Michigan. The Spartans have a ton of weapons, and Tom Izzo knows how to win games in March. Michigan is a worthy opponent, but they don’t score enough points to keep up with their in-state rival. Bet the Michigan State Spartans -2.0 over the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship Game.