No. 8 Michigan State hosts No. 4 Michigan
Big Ten rivals meet for 1st time this season
The intense race for the Big Ten regular season title heats up Tuesday when No. 4 Michigan visits No. 8 Michigan State in a mammoth encounter. A wild weekend tightened up the conference standings.
The Wolverines suffered a stunning loss to Wisconsin - which forced overtime on a 40-footer by Ben Brust - and fell into into a third-place tie and spoiling a chance at gaining the top ranking in the country. Michigan scored only two points on a Tim Hardaway Jr. layup in the extra session.
Read more: Big Ten biggie: No. 8 Michigan State hosts No. 4 Michigan
The Spartans had no such drama in their 78-65 victory at Purdue on Saturday, which allowed them to enter the week still tied with Indiana atop the Big Ten. The Hoosiers are the only team that has defeated Michigan State in 2013, and visit East Lansing on Feb. 19.
As long as Tom Izzo's team plays like it did Saturday, that game will remain a battle for first place. The Spartans got 74 points on 56.5 percent (26-for-46) shooting from their starters in dispatching the Boilermakers.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT MICHIGAN (21-3, 8-3 Big Ten): The Wolverines will need to find their legs after back-to-back overtime games. They will also need to rediscover the offensive prowess that has made them a special unit at times this season.
Against the gritty Badgers, Michigan shot 39.4 percent, just a shade over its season low, and reached the foul line for only two attempts. Nik Stauskas was held to single digits for only the third time this season and fellow freshman standout Glenn Robinson III had four points in 33 minutes. Michigan was 1-for-7 and had one turnover in overtime.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (20-4, 9-2): The Spartans have been surging despite some physical issues. Branden Dawson played through a sprained ankle to score a career-high 20 points against Purdue. Freshman standout Gary Harris has been wrestling back issues.
Sophomore guard Travis Trice, one of the team's top perimeter threats, has missed the last two games with a head injury. Dawson showed no ill effects Saturday, going 7-for-9 from the floor as Michigan State extended one of its best starts under Izzo.
The Spartans have won 19 of the last 25 meetings. They meet again in Ann Arbor on March 2.
This concludes a stretch in which the Wolverines play six of nine games on the road. They finish with four of their last six at home and only have to travel to face last-place Penn State and sliding Purdue.
Michigan State junior C Adreian Payne needs two blocks to move into fourth place in school history.