The Michigan men’s basketball team heads to East Lansing Saturday looking to defend its 3-0 conference record against arch rival Michigan State. With the Spartans riding a five game win streak and in-state bragging rights on the line for both sides, The Daily’s men’s basketball beat predicts the outcome:
Abbie Telgenhof: Michigan
Michigan’s been on a hot streak, righting the wrongs of the loss to Central Michigan and sitting atop the Big Ten after defeating two conference opponents in Penn State and Maryland. The Wolverines have finally figured out their defensive capabilities, and it’s really starting to click. Their offense is firing on all cylinders with junior center Hunter Dickison facilitating from the post and freshman wing Jett Howard holding down the perimeter.
Michigan’s also hungry for this win. No one on the roster has ever beaten Michigan State on its home floor. Dickinson will put the team on his back if he has to, as he’s become this season’s central villain in the storied history between the two programs. It won’t be easy against a packed Breslin Center, but I think Michigan comes out with the close victory.
Michigan 76, Michigan State 74
Jack Glanville: Michigan State
Similarly to Michigan, Michigan State has experienced its fair share of struggles early in the season. Both teams are trending up, though, and I don’t think there’s a lot to differentiate the two sides. The Wolverines boast offensive firepower and the matchup’s best player in junior center Hunter Dickinson, but the Spartans have a more complete and more experienced roster.
Further, this is Michigan’s first true road game since Dec. 8, and such a hostile environment could make a significant impact, especially for freshmen Jett Howard and Dug McDaniel — both of whom are playing in their first rivalry game on the road. Ultimately, I think Michigan State ekes out the win at home due to its more experienced roster and what’s bound to be a deafening Izzone.
Michigan 68, Michigan State 74
Lindsay Budin: Michigan State
It seems like things are finally looking up for Michigan. With consecutive wins against Maryland and Penn State, and a 3-0 Big Ten record, the problems that have plagued the Wolverines seem a bit more distant. Although Michigan does have some momentum, Michigan State is a tougher opponent than either the Terrapins and Nittany Lions.
And when you factor in the Spartans’ home crowd — an environment unparalleled to anything the Wolverines have experienced this season — it feels like too big of a beast for Michigan. Although its defense is looking stronger than it has all year, there are still major lapses, and that will ultimately be enough for Michigan State. I expect the Wolverines to put up a good fight and for it to be a close game, but too many times this season Michigan’s let sloppy play drive its fate, and this time it won’t be able to escape defeat.
Michigan 64, Michigan State 68
Paul Nasr: Michigan
This rivalry means a lot to both sides, and when played in East Lansing, Michigan State has had a stronghold on it. Michigan is 3-18 at Breslin Center since 1998, and no one on the Wolverines’ roster has experienced a road victory in the rivalry.
That changes Saturday. A road Michigan win in this series is bound to happen every now and then, and with the Wolverines fueled by their season’s sudden shift following their upset loss to Central Michigan, the stars are aligning for them to pull out a close one in front of a raucous Izzone. Winners of their last five, the Spartans have momentum themselves, but Michigan’s comes from a different source: a re-emergence after hitting rock bottom against the Chippewas. That momentum may not carry the Wolverines for the rest of the season, but it’ll carry them in this one.
Michigan 70, Michigan State 64