Ohio State University Basketball (Photo credit: Davey..)
Ohio State v Michigan State East Lansing Today
Where: Breslin Center in East Lansing
When: 4 p.m. 3-4-2012
The overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Big Ten title, Ohio State. While Jared Sullinger was the clear favorite for the Big Ten Player of the Year. Yet the Spartans’ win at Ohio State changed everything for both programs. Following that game, Ohio State lost at Michigan and Wisconsin, but stayed alive inside the race for the title with a two-point win at Northwestern this past Wednesday.
Buckeye team chemistry has been questioned during the past couple of weeks, but the Buckeyes have got a huge opportunity today to regain the lead. A win can earn OSU three straight Big Ten banners and place the Buckeyes back into the NCAA No. 1 seed discussion.
Thomas, was outplayed badly by Green in the first meeting, but has been Ohio State’s best player for much of the past couple of weeks. That matchup will be key, as will Payne and Nix vs. Sullinger. Craft’s hounding defense left Appling with no assists and seven turnovers last meeting. But Dawson and Brandon Wood combined to limit Buford to four points on 2-of-12 shooting. He’s as important as any player at the floor today. He ought to improve and hit some shots for Buckeyes to get a chance.
The last time Michigan State Travis Trice played at full speed was in MSU’s Feb. 11th win at Ohio State, but he ought to be close to that today after playing eight minutes in Tuesday’s loss to the Indiana Hoosiers. Trice hurt his right ankle at Ohio State and missed the next four games. He said he has two small ligament tears in the ankle but “dramatic” improvement occurred this week.
Trice’s return should help Appling, who seemed to be affected by heavier minutes in Trice’s absence. Appling struggled Tuesday at Indiana and hasn’t hit a 3-point shot since the win at Ohio State. Also, reserve center Derrick Nix expects to be one hundred percent after spraining his right foot weeks ago.
MSU has a part the Big Ten title plus an ability to secure sole possession today because of the win at Ohio State. Payne had the most effective game of his career (15 points) against old AAU teammate Sullinger, and also the MSU defense created awful Ohio State shooting — 26.4 percent overall, 13.3 percent from 3-point range.
The Spartans had success single-covering Sullinger then bringing guards to dig and slap for the ball when he put it on the floor. It’ll be interesting to see just how all players adjust that matchup today.
You have to select the Buckeyes, considering they provide the most talent here in the Big Ten and countless good reasons to think of. But MSU matches up well and loves playing in your own home. Look for the Spartans to rebound better than recently and push the ball anytime they can. That pace joined with MSU’s depth advantage should make the difference the last 10 minutes.