If the Michigan State Spartans want to make a claim for the Big Ten regular season title, a win tonight against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes would go a long way.
MSU (13-1) is facing an extremely experienced and talented (15-0) Ohio State team that is off to their best start since the 2010-2011 season. Led by their captain, fifth-year senior Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes are probably the Spartans’ biggest threat at a Big Ten title.
Craft is the Buckeyes’ assist leader, averaging 4.9 per game, but can score when necessary. OSU relies on him to drive the lane and dish to outside shooters LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Amir Williams.
Tom Izzo frequently says that he believes Keith Appling can guard anybody in the nation, and the Spartans will need that lockdown defense from him tonight.
Coming off a huge win against the Indiana Hoosiers, MSU will look to continue that success with dominant play from Gary Harris, who recorded a career-high 26 points against IU.
Tonight, fouls may play a role in the game as they did against Indiana. Appling and Adreian Payne struggled with fouls against the Hoosiers. Facing a very physical guard in Craft, Appling will face his most difficult test thus far.
A Michigan State win tonight will be an excellent start to the Big Ten season and most likely propel the Spartans to a top-three ranking. There is no doubt that MSU has the talent to beat the Buckeyes, but as we have seen throughout this season, Spartan success will rely on the team’s attitude at game time.
MSU leads the all-time series 66-56, but lost their last matchup against the Buckeyes when Ohio State beat the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship Game, 61-58.
Prediction: MSU 77- OSU 68
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports