DeYoung: Home court advantage will lift MSU
I know about the injuries for Michigan State.
I know about Michigan’s hot streak against ranked teams.
But above all, I know where today’s game will be played, and that will make all the difference.
Sure, Michigan State is playing without big men Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. That will hurt, but it’s not like Michigan is a team that pounds it inside on a regular basis.
Sure, Michigan’s been on fire of late, winning at then-No. 3 Wisconsin and knocking off No. 10 Iowa in back to back games.
The momentum all points toward Michigan, which has played tremendously since preseason All American Mitch McGary was lost to back surgery.
But in my mind, the biggest factor in today’s showdown between the only two unbeaten teams in the Big Ten doesn’t wear Nikes or Adidas high-tops.
The Breslin Center is a great equalizer for Michigan State, where Michigan State owns a pretty impressive 267-39 record, good for a percentage of .873.
Just look at last year’s game. Michigan, with NBAers Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way, got absolutely crushed by Michigan State.
The Izzone goes crazy, the Spartans play incredible pressure defense, Tom Izzo goes ballistic, the refs swallow their whistles, and the visiting team loses.
I’m looking for a close game, but in the end, even without a full arsenal available, Izzo and the Spartans will come out on top.
Michigan State 62, Michigan 59
WOLAK: Injuries too much to overcome for Spartans
The Spartans’ injury woes are toying with me.
First I thought Adreian Payne would be out, and then I heard he'd be back. But on Thursday, coach Tom Izzo said his return was doubtful.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, Branden Dawson broke his hand in anger after a film session.
Not only are these two both starters, but they're the perfect small-ball power forward and center.
Those roles would have been even more important against Michigan because coach John Beilein has made his career out of throwing aside height-related conventions.
Yes, Payne starts at power forward and Dawson at small forward, but the Spartans most dangerous lineup comes when Matt Costello takes a seat, either Denzel Valentine or Travis Trice comes in, and the injured duo moves up a spot.
Payne would have lured Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford away from the basket, making it that much easier for Michigan State's athletic guards to get to the basket.
Dawson would have been athletic enough to keep up with Glenn Robinson III, and physical enough to maybe even throw him off a bit.
Who's going to check the future first rounder now? Kenny Kaminski? Gavin Schilling? Alex Gauna?
These injuries have made it so I'm Gauna have to change my original pick published Thursday. I can no longer in good confidence pick the Sparties.
Michigan 69, Michigan State 62