No. 14 Michigan State men's will look to sweep Northwestern (6-13 overall, 1-8 Big Ten) when the Wildcats travel to the Breslin Center on Wednesday (BTN, 6:30 EST).
When the Spartans traveled to Northwestern in December they sealed a 77-72 win in a not-so-smooth fashion. MSU committed a horrific 16 turnovers that almost handed the contest to the Wildcats in the final minutes.
Since this match-up, Northwestern has gone 1-8, but MSU coach Tom Izzo isn’t letting his team enter the game with their guard down.
“(Wednesday) concerns me,” Izzo said. “The more I watch Northwestern, I see that they're really well coached. ... Anytime you have a home game against a team you beat and have struggled a little bit, it's a trap game, so I'm concerned about that. They're a dangerous team, they've played Illinois to the buzzer.”
After splitting a pair on the road last weekend, MSU has put itself back at the top of the league, tied with Illinois for first. Northwestern sits at the bottom of the Big Ten with their sole in-conference win coming against Nebraska.
“Even though their at the bottom of the league that’s not something we can look at,” sophomore forward Aaron Henry said. “Every team in the Big Ten is good, and anybody can lose to anybody so you have to look at it like that for them.”
After moving around the starting lineup by benching sophomore forwards Aaron Henry and Marcus Bingham Jr. to allow freshman guard Rocket Watts and freshman forward Malik Hall to start on Sunday, the focus will be on the starting lineup Wednesday.
Northwestern freshman guard Boo Buie will be the Spartans' main threat come Wednesday. Buie put up a career-high 26 points the last time MSU played Northwestern, and the 6-foot-2 New York native averages 10.2 points per game.
However, the main test will be if MSU can sweep Northwestern like they did Minnesota on the road last weekend.
“They know us, we know them,” Henry said. “We already played them earlier in the season. There’s probably going to be some get back from them because we beat them on their home court.”
Jayna Bardahl: MSU 85, Northwestern 63
Paolo Giannandrea: MSU 83, Northwestern 60