The Michigan men’s basketball team heads to East Lansing Saturday to take on No. 10 Michigan State for a chance to win its fourth straight and enter the conversation for the Big Ten title race. Entering the weekend slate of games each week, The Daily’s basketball beat will predict the outcome of games across college basketball, tallying their records across the season. Here are their predictions:
Michigan at No. 10 Michigan State
I look at this game a lot like the Indiana game: if you throw out the records and ignore the fact it’s a hostile environment, I just think Michigan has the better team. The Spartans came back to earth a little in losses to Northwestern and No. 24 Illinois, and the Wolverines have seemingly unlocked a new wrinkle in their offense with sophomore center Hunter Dickinson passing out of the post and freshman wing Caleb Houstan making threes at a much higher clip. I think it’s a close game, but Michigan has enough offensive talent to grind it out at the end.
Jack: Michigan State
While the Wolverines are playing better than they were a few weeks ago, I don’t see them leaving the Breslin Center with a win. Michigan State’s biggest weakness is turnovers, but Michigan hasn’t been all that good at forcing them — it’s 340th in the nation on a per-game basis. Even when the Wolverines do force turnovers, they often struggle to take advantage in transition. Barring a lights out shooting performance, Michigan loses a close one.
Nick: Michigan State
On paper, I actually think a game between these two teams is a coin toss, but there are two big reasons why I’m going with Michigan State here: The Breslin and Tom Izzo. The energy in that building will make for the loudest crowd that Michigan has faced all season, and for many of the Wolverines, it will be their first game against the Spartans with fans in the building. And Izzo is a hall of fame-level coach for a reason. His team has already dropped two of its last three games; I don’t see Izzo letting them drop a third.
Michigan is riding an impressive three-game win streak right now. And when the Wolverines are firing on all cylinders, they’ve shown that they are a tough team to beat. The question then becomes, will they play at that level come a raucous Saturday at the Breslin? Well, the two players which that hinges upon — Dickinson and Houstan — just happen to be playing their best basketball of the season. If they lose some of their form, then Michigan State will win, but I think that their hot streak continues and Michigan wins a close one.
Big Ten picks
Saturday Jan. 29 2:30 pm Indiana -1 at Maryland
Saturday Jan. 29 4:30 pm No. 24 Illinois -3 at Northwestern
Saturday Jan. 29 6:30 pm Rutgers -2 at Nebraska
Sunday Jan. 30 noon No. 16 Ohio State +9 at No. 6 Purdue
Sunday Jan. 30 1:00 pm Minnesota +9 at No. 11 Wisconsin
Monday Jan. 31 7:00 pm Iowa -4 at Penn State
Flavor of the Week picks:
Saturday Jan. 29 6:00 pm No. 12 Kentucky +3 at No. 5 Kansas
Saturday Jan. 29 4:00 pm No. 4 Baylor -5 at Alabama
Saturday Jan. 29 No. 18 Tennessee +3 at Texas