Wisconsin (22-6, 11-4) at Michigan State (17-11, 9-6)
When: Sunday, February 26th 2017
Where: Breslin Events Center, East Lansing, MI
Time: 4:00 ET | TV: CBS
The Wisconsin Badgers visit the Michigan State Spartans in a key Big Ten matchup on Sunday afternoon in East Lansing. Wisconsin has been reeling a bit this month with three losses in their last four games and find themselves a half game behind Purdue for the top mark in the conference. Ethan Happ is going it all for Wisconsin, leading the team in scoring (15.6 points), rebounding (8.3), assists (2.9), blocks (1.5) and steals (2.6) during Big Ten play to make him the only player in the nation to top his team in all five categories in conference action. Happ (14.4 points, 8.9 rebounds on the season) and Nigel Hayes (13.4, six) have a huge size advantage in the paint against a relatively small Michigan State frontcourt. Bronson Koenig, a senior guard, broke out of a mini-slump in the loss to Ohio State on Thursday, matching his career high with 27 points, while passing Ben Brust as the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers. Koenig had gone 8-of-36 from 3-point range over his previous six games, but was 5-of-9 against the Buckeyes. Wisconsin has been outscored in the paint just five times this season, going 1-4 in those contests.
The Spartans are playing better than they did in the beginning of conference play, winning five of their last seven to pull within a half game of third place Minnesota and Maryland. Coach Tom Izzo’s team relies mainly on its freshman forwards, as Miles Bridges (16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Nick Ward (13.1, 5.9) are the team’s top two scorers and rebounders. They will need solid guard play from Tum Tum Nairn (3.8 assists) and Cassius Winston (5.4) against a great half-court defense like Wisconsin’s. With senior Eron Harris sidelined for the season with a knee injury, fellow senior Alvin Ellis III has been thrust into the starting lineup for the Spartans for just the third time in his career. Ellis shot just 1-of-6 in an 88-72 win over Nebraska on Thursday, although he did finish with seven points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. Ellis will be playing his final game at the Breslin Center against Wisconsin. Freshman guard Joshua Langford had his best game as a Spartan against Nebraska, scoring a career-high 17 points while matching his personal best with five rebounds. Michigan State will finish the regular season on the road at Illinois and Maryland next week.
Michigan State is playing better than Wisconsin right now, but the Badgers matchup well inside against the Spartans. I think they take advantage of that and pick up a big road victory.
Pick: Wisconsin -2
HEAD TO HEAD
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