The Michigan State Spartans (6-2) host the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Monday night in each team’s second Big Ten game of the season.
The Spartans are coming off a 78-67 win on the road in Piscataway, New Jersey against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Hawkeyes fell at home against the Wisconsin Badgers 72-66 in a highly defensive battle, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Here is a preview and a pick for the Spartans tough Big Ten Home Opener.
What: Iowa (6-1) at Michigan State (6-2)
When: Monday, December 3rd, 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan, Michigan State University
What to watch for the Iowa Hawkeyes:
Fran McCaffrey’s Hawkeyes enter December with a 6-1 record and find themselves currently ranked in the AP top 25 at #14 in the country. Junior forward Tyler Cook continues to impress as he leads Iowa averaging 15.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Cook was good for 19 points against the Badgers on Saturday. Luka Garza averages 13.9 points per game, brings some toughness in the post along with the ability to step outside the three-point arc.
Iowa has wins over the Oregon Ducks, UConn Huskies, and Pittsburgh Panthers. The Hawkeyes beat the Panthers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge 69-68. Iowa’s wins over the Ducks and Huskies in the 2K Empire Classic came with scores of 77-69 over then #13 Oregon before beating UConn for the tournament title 91-72.
Iowa is looking to rebound from their six-point home-loss with a big win over the number nine ranked Spartans. Freshman’s Connor McCaffery and Joe Wieskamp add solid young depth to the Hawkeyes backcourt along with starting point guard Jordan Bohannon. The last time the Hawkeyes made the trip to East Lansing they came out on top. Can they repeat that success?
A major point where Iowa has struggled this season is beyond the arc where they are shooting only 33 percent from the three-point line. Defensively for the Hawkeyes, the three-point arc is something they are good at defending, as they are holding opponents to 31 percent from the three-point line.
What to watch for the Michigan State Spartans:
Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans enter the month of December at 6-2 on the season and are currently the number nine ranked team in the country. Juniors Nick Ward, Joshua Langford, and Cassius Winston lead the Spartans this season. Cassius Winston leads the team averaging 17.9 points per game. The Spartans top rebounder continues to be senior forward Kenny Goins as he averages 10 rebounds per game.
Nick Ward went for 20 points in the Spartans win at Rutgers on Friday night, he along with a 22 point effort from Cassius Winston and 14 points from Joshua Langford led the Spartans to victory. Senior Guard Matt McQuaid has missed the last two games, and it looks as if he will miss yet a third game as he continues to deal with an injured knee.
The Spartans will have to look to role players Kyle Ahrens, freshman Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown and Foster Loyer along with Xavier Tillman as this forthcoming match-up with Hawkeyes could test the Spartans all game. Tillman has looked impressive in his last two games with a pair of 11 point games and nearly had back-to-back double-doubles.
Michigan State’s two losses are by a combined nine points, and the Spartans will have to come out ready to go in this one, as they have started off a little rough in their last three games, including falling behind 25-6 early three games ago against Texas. Can the Spartans play a complete game, much as they did against UCLA in Las Vegas?
The Hawkeyes and Spartans will be in for a great game, as both teams have had respectable starts their season as both teams have six wins on the season. The Hawkeyes have great talent and ability in both the post and the backcourt, which could give MSU some trouble early on, but much like the game at Rutgers, I see this one being close in the first half before the Spartans come out in the second half and pull away late. However if Iowa gets a rhythm going, the Spartans better tread carefully, as Iowa is always hungry for a big road win, especially against Michigan State.