Battling For The Big Ten Lead

Tonight the Michigan State Spartans come to the Schott to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.  The two teams stand atop the Big Ten, and the winner will have a leg up on winning the Big Ten regular season championship.

This should be a classic match-up.  Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo, whose teams have dominated the Big Ten for years, and is led by Draymond Green, the do-everything senior who is a very strong Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.  Green is one of those players every fan would love to have on their favorite team.  He works hard, leads by example, hustles, shoots well from the outside, can post up and rebound, will scrap for the ball and get the crucial garbage bucket, and is a great passer.  What’s not to like?

Michigan State has other weapons, too.  Keith Appling is a quick, capable point guard, Brandon Wood is a solid shooting guard, and Branden Dawson is one of the best freshman in the conference.  The Spartans also have lots of big bodies — in the form of Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, and Green — to throw at Jared Sullinger.

The Buckeyes struggled on defense in their game against Purdue, but were able to outscore the Boilermakers.  I’m hoping that Buckeyes coach Thad Matta has figured out how to defend against the high screen Purdue used so effectively, because we can be sure that the crafty Izzo will have the Spartans ready to test that proposition.  How the Buckeyes respond after their disappointing defensive effort against Purdue will tell us a lot about this team and its prospects.

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