Michigan State Seeks to Return to Their Winning Ways

The No. 12 Michigan State Spartans are eager to further build on their momentum as they travel to Welsh-Ryan Arena to face the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday night.

MSU finally snapped their uncharacteristic losing streak by topping No. 7 Maryland, 74-65, in a much-needed win on Saturday.

The Spartans defense stepped up big time by forcing turnovers and dominating on the boards, led by senior Matt Costello. He recorded yet another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, along with 3 blocks. But it was his free throw shooting that sealed the deal for MSU. After only making 40% (2 for 5) from the stripe against Nebraska, he drilled 90% (9 for 10) in this game, including several crucial free throws in the closing minutes.

Another senior, Bryn Forbes, finally got out of his shooting slump, hitting 8 of his 15 shots for a team-high 25 points. He displayed great shot selection and effectively used his ball handling skills to his advantage. Denzel Valentine’s former high school teammate was able to get great separation from the defenders off the dribble after some pump fake action.

The top-10 win can be best described as efficient. All the starters contributed in their own unique way to guide Michigan State to a 4-4 record in the Big Ten race.

Meanwhile, Northwestern is one of the pleasant surprises in the Big Ten this season, holding a 15-6 overall mark. They are expected to pursue their quest to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats’ most notable wins include Wisconsin and Nebraska. They took Maryland into overtime last week in College Park, but failed to secure the win.

Chris Collin’s club strongly relies on their stingy and aggressive defense to get the job done, which only surrenders 65 points per game.

The key to the game for both squads is limiting the biggest scoring threats for the opposing team. For Michigan State, that means to contain Bryant McIntosh and Tre Demps on the perimeter while keeping Alex Olah in check down low. For Northwestern, they must be able to slow down the dynamic scoring duo of Valentine and Forbes.

Michigan State holds a commanding 5-1 lead over Northwestern since 2010. That lone loss came in the 2011-2012 season at Welsh-Ryan Arena. College Basketball fans can only hope that this meeting will be as entertaining as last year’s contest at the Breslin Center, where MSU escaped with an 84-77 OT victory.