Spartans head to Wisconsin to open two-game road stretch



Jenna Allen/MSU Athletic Communications

Joe Dandron, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

The No. 24 Michigan State women’s basketball team (17-6, 7-5 Big Ten) heads to Madison on Thursday evening to take on the Wisconsin Badgers (11-13, 2-10 Big Ten) at 8 p.m. in the only meeting of these two teams this season.

The Spartans are coming off a big 77-61 win at home against the Indiana Hoosiers. The victory pushed MSU to a perfect 13-0 at home this year and extended its 16-game home winning streak that dates back to last season.  

Wisconsin, on the other hand, is coming off its third consecutive loss. The Badgers fell 78-68 on the road against Illinois and are now tied in the win column with the Illini as the two teams battle to not finish last in the Big Ten standings.

The two teams have experienced different seasons. Michigan State is focusing on finding consistent road success as it barrels towards the Big Ten Tournament and (potentially) the NCAA Tournament. With wins over No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 Maryland and No. 14 Iowa, the Spartans will look to either make a run in the Big Ten Tournament as they near the curtain call on another regular season, or get an at-large bid to the Big Dance.

Wisconsin, who has nine underclassmen listed on its roster, is building towards the future. Nevertheless, head coach Jonathan Tsipis would love to steal a game from MSU as it continues to build a case for a better seed in the national tournament. Tsipis has brought the program back, and in his first season won the program’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2013.

MSU, with its last three road games coming in the next few weeks, will hope that Shay Colley builds off the best night of her career against Indiana in which she dropped a career-high 32 points. The junior guard put on a clinic during the last game, scoring the most points by a Spartan since former All-American Tori Jankoska scored 42 on Ohio State in 2017.

Wisconsin’s youth movement continued to show promise for the coming years against Illinois as Imani Lewis scored 16 points. Lewis has scored in double-digits in almost every game, with only five single-digit scoring outputs to her name as a true freshman. But the “newbie-oldie” combo for Wisconsin in the frontcourt will be big, as senior forward Marsha Howard teams up with her understudy, Lewis, to average 13 points per game to her 12.5.

The pair has the two highest averages in rebounding and points per game on the team.

Jenna Allen and Colley lead the Spartans in scoring at 14 points and 14.9 points a game, respectively. Allen, however, has averaged 11.8 points since Colley returned from an early-season injury. The senior center averaged 17 points a game prior to the injury. Allen has yet to regather the early season breakout since her counterpart has returned. While this can be attributed to the fact that Colley is back and was the offensive centerpiece last year, MSU seemed to be a more consistent and better offensive team during Colley’s absence.

Wisconsin, who has surprised some teams this year, hasn’t been able to gather all its young talent and is only averaging 63 points a game while giving up nearly the same number. With young teams, consistent defense is often a struggle and that has shown this season.

The Spartans and Badgers grind towards the end of the year and will matchup Thursday at 8 p.m. on BTN+.