Michigan State set for Wisconsin road test


Sarah Smith

Malik Hall scores a basket during Michigan State’s 59-53 victory over Michigan on January 7, 2023. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Luca Melloni, Sports Editor

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State men’s basketball team begins a two-game road trip starting Tuesday, Jan. 10 against the Wisconsin Badgers followed by Illinois on Jan. 13. After successfully defeating Michigan and extending the win streak to six, the Spartans continue to play one of the most strenuous weeks in their schedule. 

Tuesday’s game will be the 153rd all-time meeting between Michigan State and Wisconsin. The Spartans lead the all-time series 85-67 over the Badgers. 

 “This will be our first time on the road in more than a month,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “They [Wisconsin] are always very experienced though they do have one freshman that’s playing well for them. They are always very tough, solid and fundamental. They never turn the ball over– it’s illegal in the cheese state.” 

The Badgers (11-3) return to the Kohl Center after suffering a 69-79 defeat against Illinois on Jan. 7. Sophomore guard Chucky Hepburn led the Badgers with 22 points, seven assists and four steals but were unable to flip the score against Illinois in Champaign. 

The loss against Illinois was Wisconsin’s first conference defeat of the season. 

Wisconsin senior Tyler Wahl will be a game-time decision if he plays against the Spartans on Tuesday. The 6-foot-9 sharpshooter has not practiced all week and did not play against Illinois after suffering an ankle injury. 

“They [Wisconsin] have some other guys that have really stepped up,” Izzo said. “[Chucky] Hepburn is one of the most improved players in the league by far.” 

With the Badgers likely to have Wahl sidelined again, they will look to Hepburn and the 7-foot junior Steven Crowl to put up important numbers on the board. 

During its six-game win streak, Michigan State is scoring 70.7 points per game while holding opponents to 56.5 points per game. The Spartans are first in the Big Ten conference field goal defense (38.3%). 

Izzo gave positive comments on Malik Hall’s status after he rolled his ankle against Michigan on Jan. 7. Hall previously missed eight games due to a foot injury in November and returned to action against Buffalo on Dec. 30. 

“The outside of his [Hall] ankle was almost on the floor but he’s doing pretty good,” Izzo said. “He practiced yesterday, and there’s no damage to his foot, now it’s the ankle a little bit. Getting him back to full [fitness] in the next two weeks is going to be the biggest part because he’s just so versatile.” 

Hall recorded 15 points in the win over the Wolverines and was instrumental in keeping the scoreboard on the Spartans’ side as their rivals tried to close in on the comeback in the second half. 

The Spartans will need another influential performance from Hall and junior point guard A.J. Hoggard, who is in third place in assists (6.4 APG) in the Big Ten. 

In Hoggard’s last four games, he’s scored 38 points and dished out 33 assists while only turning over the ball five times. 

“We’re a better defensive team than last year already,” Izzo said. “We’ve been able to collect some good wins, so we’ll see what we can do on the road. There are no bad teams in the league.” 

Tuesday night’s game against Wisconsin is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air on ESPN. The Spartans will follow up the trip to Madison with another road game to Illinois (Jan. 13) before returning to East Lansing to face Purdue on Monday, Jan. 16.