Tuesday, February 27, 2024

MSU men's basketball looks to hit .500 in Big Ten play at Maryland

January 20, 2024
Golden Gophers forward Pharrel Payne shoots over MSU center Carson Cooper at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Payne recorded 7 points to Cooper's 6.
Golden Gophers forward Pharrel Payne shoots over MSU center Carson Cooper at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Payne recorded 7 points to Cooper's 6. —
Photo by Jack Armstrong | The State News

After a rocky game against Minnesota that ended in the Spartans pulling ahead with a 76-66 victory, the Michigan State men's basketball team will once again hit the road to take on Maryland on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to hit .500 in conference games. 

So far this season, the Spartans have severely struggled on the road, losing all three true road games and winning just one of three neutral contests. Things were looking positive following winter break, with MSU taking five games in a row before hitting the road and losing to Northwestern and Illinois back-to-back.  

Heading into this matchup, the Spartans and the Terrapins are standing on fairly even ground. Both teams are sitting at 11-7 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, but MSU has had the tougher schedule thus far. That does not necessarily mean that Michigan State will take down Maryland, as the Terrapins defeated No. 10 Illinois on the road—something that the Spartans were not able to accomplish. After that massive victory for the Maryland team, they dropped their second game of the road trip to Northwestern and are coming into Sunday off a loss.

Despite recent offensive success for MSU, the Thursday night contest against Minnesota saw only 3-13 three-pointers fall. Thankfully for the Spartans, the Terrapins are last in the Big Ten with a .279 three-point percentage, and should they fail to find offensive success from deep again, their opponents could likely find themselves also struggling from deep.

Maryland has two large offensive threats in guard: Jahmir Young and forward Julian Reese. Reese is the second leading scorer in the Big Ten, averaging 20.8 points per game, just ahead of graduate student guard Tyson Walker, who averages 20.0 points per game.

Reese averages 13.6 points per game, but where he can really beat down the Spartans is on the boards. Michigan State has been struggling with rebounding all season, and the 6'9" forward is second in the conference, averaging 9.7 boards per game. The Spartans thrive when they dominate the boards, but that could be a tough feat Sunday with a forward like Reese.   

Historically, Michigan State leads the series against Maryland 14-8, having taken the past four meetings, and head coach Tom Izzo has a 13-8 advantage over the Terrapins.

The matchup at College Park will be on CBS at noon.

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