Remember that time when Penn State beat Michigan State at the Palestra? Those were good times. Since then, both teams have moved in opposite directions. Michigan State got healthy and finished with a 10-8 conference record. Penn State got sick/injured and finished with a 6-12 conference record. Both teams are fairly young and have had their ups and downs this season, with Michigan State having more ups than Penn State.
Tournament Profile: Michigan State Spartans
- Record: 18-13, 10-8 Big Ten
- Big Ten Standing: 5th
- Kenpom Rank: 50
- RPI: 47
- Season Series: January 7th; Penn State 72, Michigan State 63 (Philadelphia, PA)
- Game Info: 2:30 PM EST, BTN (may be moved to the Noon slot)
Vegas Line: Michigan State
If the Lions can replicate the performance they had back in January, this could be an interesting game. Michigan State has showed that they’re a much better team than they were back in January, and March is Tom Izzo’s month. Michigan State, however, has still showed some weaknesses, which Illinois, Purdue, and most recently Maryland, were able to exploit.
The Spartans are either playing for an NCAA tournament bid or seeding depending on who you ask, but regardless, they won’t take this game lightly given what they have to play for and what happened the last time around. The Lions need to stay focused, while mitigating the damage from their inevitable five-minutes-or-more stretch of zero field goals. If the Lions can avoid going down by double digits during said stretch, they may be able to keep the game close enough throughout to have Tony Carr do his magic at the end of the game.
Shep Garner had himself a vintage day yesterday, and Payton Banks, while not too effective offensively, made up for it by having one of the best defensive days in his career as a Nittany Lion. If they both keep this up, and both have a good shooting day together, things could get real interesting in this game. Their performances are what they are at this point, but in a win or go home setting, a fire could be lit under this team to transcend their performance so far.
It would be nice to see Penn State play on Friday for the second time in three years, but it’s hard to see Pat Chambers get the best of Tom Izzo twice in one season. March is Izzo’s month, and the threat of playing at noon due to the incident with Michigan may make it difficult for the tired Lions.
Michigan State 77, Penn State 63.