Prediction: MSU has tools to beat Ohio State tonight
Number don’t lie, except when they do.
That odd statement isn’t any truer when it comes to Ohio State, who is holding opponents to 54.9 points per game, the second-lowest mark in the nation.
But just like OSU’s football team, the remarkable stat lines are a product from their incredibly weak schedule. The only top 25 team the Buckeyes have played was then-No. 17 Marquette, who has proved themselves unworthy of a preseason ranking as they have fallen to a 9-6 record.
So am I saying OSU is a tad overrated by not scheduling any solid teams and instead beat on schools that have the caliber of some local high school teams? You bet I am.
Ohio State has held three teams to under 50 points this season, but they have never faced an offensive machine like MSU, who is averaging more than 82 points per game.
Senior guard Keith Appling’s 3-point shooting has improved by 15 percent from last year, and he is playing smarter than ever at point guard. Sophomore guard Gary Harris is coming off a 27-point game, a performance where his shooting was so hot it could probably melt all the snow in East Lansing.
And then there is senior forward Adreian Payne, who averages 16.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. OSU only has one player taller than 6-foot-9, and the Buckeyes are 95th in the nation in rebounding.
Basically, what I’m saying is if MSU is struggling on the wings with Appling and Harris, they can rely on Payne in the post to give them the edge in post scoring and rebounding.
MSU leads for most the game and OSU will have a late run to keep the game exciting, but the Izzone will cue up the “Just like football” chant and everyone wearing green and white will go home happy.
MSU: 70 OSU: 64
The clash between the Spartans and Buckeyes is quickly becoming one of the premier rivalries in the Big Ten — tonight will only add to that arua.
The key to this game will be the guard play, especially at the point.
Appling and Buckeye senior Aaron Craft are two of the best in the country, and with both having a fantastic season to this point.
Craft leads the Big Ten in steals (2.5 per game) and is second in assists (4.9), and Appling is notched at No. 4 on the assists per game (4.6) list and leads the conference in 3-point shooting percentage.
Ohio State guard Shannon Scott is second in the Big Ten with 2.1 steals per game.
The turnovers that Craft and Scott create lead to fast-break points, a category the Spartans must win if they want to have a chance against the talented and athletic Buckeyes.
While Ohio State will be looking at their guards on the defensive end, the Spartans will be looking to sophomore guard Gary Harris to carry the load offensively.
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta recruited Harris out of high school, but now that he’s at MSU, he’s lighting up opponents, averaging more than 16 points per game.
The No. 2 scorer in the Big Ten will have another big game against Ohio State.
Appling and Harris led the Spartans in scoring the last two times out against the Buckeyes, but haven’t worked together like they have thus far this season.
The Spartans down the Buckeyes in a close one.
MSU: 78 OSU: 75