College Basketball: Why Michigan at Michigan St. Is the Game to Watch This Week

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2013

After the most unpredictable week of basketball in recent memory, it is time for rivalry games to up into the spotlight this week. 

No. 4 Michigan (21-3, 8-3) at No.8 Michigan State (20-4, 9-2); Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN

Once again, the Big 10 is in the spotlight with yet another matchup between two ranked teams.

On Tuesday, the best teams in the state of Michigan will square off at the Breslin Center in the first of two meetings this season.

The Michigan Wolverines have lost two of their last three games and are looking to get back on track with a win in East Lansing. 

The Wolverines fought hard in their two losses to Indiana and Wisconsin, but they came out on the wrong end of the scoreline. 

Against Indiana, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas were not effective, and their lack of scoring hurt the Wolverines towards the end of the game. 

In the overtime loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, the two players combined for a total of nine points. 

If those two players are able to contribute more to the Wolverines cause, they will give their team a better chance of winning. 

As for the other players on the Michigan roster, they have done all they can to power John Beilein's team to victory.

Trey Burke has been the best player on the Wolverines roster all season, and his superb play has continued throughout Big 10 play. 

Burke has scored in double figures in every one of Michigan's 24 games, including a strong 25-point performance in the loss to Indiana. 

Burke's strong play has been accompanied by Tim Hardaway, Jr., who delivered 18 points against both Indiana and Wisconsin.

While Burke and Hardaway are scoring like many people expected them to, Mitch McGary has continued to impress everyone with his play off of the bench. 

In the last three games, McGary has scored in double figures and has provided the Wolverines with an extra presence in the paint that can not only score but rebound and defend, as well. 

Michigan State continues to fly under the radar in conference play, and they will get a chance to once again prove their worth on Tuesday night. 

The Spartans have put themselves in position with the Big 10 if they take care of business against the ranked teams in the conference; they are currently 2-2 against ranked conference opposition.

Tom Izzo's team is made up of a confident starting five that average close to double figures in every game while the bench has been productive, as well.

The team is led in the stat columns by Keith Appling, who averages 14.1 points per game and 4.1  assists per game.

On the court, the team's emotional leaders play in the paint with Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, who provide plenty of veteran leadership to the team, a role that was left open after Draymond Green graduated last year. 

Starting on Tuesday, the Spartans enter a stretch of games where they face four ranked opponents in five games with a trip to Nebraska on Saturday being the only game against non-ranked opposition. 

There is no better way for the Spartans to start off the most difficult stretch of their schedule than to take down their in-state rival at home. 

Just like the rest of the ranked matchups in the Big 10 that we have already seen this season, Tuesday's battle of Michigan will provide us with plenty of fireworks, and there might even be a buzzer-beater. 

The winner of this game should be decided by experience, which Michigan State has plenty of.

The Wolverines are still young, and they have lost three of their four games on the road against ranked opposition in conference play. 

With all that being said, this game will be close but expect the Spartans to come out on top at the end. 


Who do you think will win Tuesday's Big 10 clash? 

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90. 


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