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Badger Basketball Preview: Michigan State Edition

The Basics

Where: The Breslin Center in East Lansing
When: Sunday, February 26th; 3 pm CT
Channel: CBS
Spread: Wisconsin -2
Last Meeting: Michigan State won 69-57 on February 18th, 2016

Projected Starting Lineups

Michigan State (17-11, 9-6)

G Tum Tum Nairn – Jr. 5-10, 175 (3.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.8 apg)
G Joshua Langford- Fr. 6-5, 210 (6.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)
G Alvin Ellis- Sr. 6-4, 210 (6.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 apg)
F Miles Bridges- Fr. 6-7, 230 (16.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 apg)
F Nick Ward- Fr. 6-8, 255 (13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .5 apg)

No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers (22-6, 11-4)

G Bronson Koenig- Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G Zak Showalter- Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F Nigel Hayes- Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg)
F Vitto Brown- Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Ethan Happ- So. 6-10, 280 (14.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.8 apg)

Matchup to Watch: Miles Bridges vs Nigel Hayes

Despite all the criticism Hayes gets from the Wisconsin fan base, he has been one of the best defenders in the league all season long. His length, size, and agility give him the versatility to play stifling defense on the perimeter and in the post. However, Sunday’s game against Michigan State will really test his defensive ability.

Power Forward Miles Bridges is one of the most talented players in college basketball. He is proficient in the post, but he can also score as a slasher, shooter, and on offensive rebounds. He leads Michigan State with 16 points per game on 50% shooting, leading to him being named to the Karl Malone Jr. Power Forward of the Year Award watch list.

3 Numbers to Know

9– That is Wisconsin’s current losing streak against Michigan State at Breslin. The last time Wisconsin won in East Lansing, George Bush was in his first term as president. It has been a long time. Even in a down year, the Spartans have been tough at home, winning four in a row. 

15– That is how many points Bronson Koenig is averaging against Michigan State in his last four game against them. In fact, two of Koenig’s biggest performances of his career have came against the Spartans. First, in the 2014-15 Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, Koenig led the Badgers with 18 points and a bunch of big buckets down the stretch. Then last season, Koenig had his career-high of 27 points in a win against Michigan State, which turned Wisconsin’s season around.

19– That is how many consecutive NCAA Tournaments the Spartans have made. That the 5th longest streak ever and the 3rd longest current streak in college hoops. But that run is in jeopardy. The Spartans are squarely on the bubble, and are desperate for a win against the Badgers.

Prediction

Wisconsin is struggling. A Tom Izzo coached Michigan State team is desperate. And the game is being played in the Badger’s house of horrors, the Breslin Center. That is not exactly a recipe for success. Wisconsin needs this game to keep up with Purdue in the Big Ten Title race, but unless something changes, that isn’t going to happen.

Wisconsin 61- Michigan State 71

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