Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans
Michigan Wolverines Preview
The Michigan Wolverines likely will be without second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers (13.6 points per game, 29 of 58 3-pointers). Livers suffered a groin injury Dec. 21 against Presbyterian and did not play Dec. 29 against UMass Lowell. Potentially starting in Livers’ place at small forward is East Lansing (Mich.) native Brandon Johns (4.3 points, 4.5 rebounds per game).
Michigan has gone 3-3 in its last six games after starting 7-0 under new coach Juwan Howard, who will coach against Tom Izzo for the first time but went 6-0 against the Spartans as a player at Michigan. The Wolverines are 0-2 in true road games, losing at Louisville and Illinois.
Michigan State Spartans Preview
The Michigan State Spartans face their instate rivals on a roll, bringing in a six-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 24.3 points in that stretch. The Spartans, the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, are the conference’s lone unbeaten team in league play after wins over Rutgers and Illinois at home, and Northwestern on the road.
They are excelling without guard Joshua Langford, out this season after having foot surgery. The interior defense of Xavier Tillman and Marcus Bingham Jr. (each with 23 blocked shots), paired with the playmaking ability of reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston (17.8 points per game), make Michigan State tough to beat.