Arena: Breslin Center (14,759)
Date: February 17
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Last Meeting: Purdue won a 76-70 overtime contest on Jan. 25 in West Lafayette.
The Spartans remain a half-game behind the Wisconsin Badgers for first place in the Big Ten and would love to keep pace with a win tonight over the always tough Boilermakers.
Purdue whipped Michigan State in overtime in their first meeting and stand a respectable 16-8 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
The Spartans need to finish strong to erase early season memories of blowout losses at Kansas and Duke. The NCAA selection committee members also saw State fall to Oklahoma, UCLA, Kansas and Syracuse. The Spartans hope to run the table to avoid their 10th loss of the season.
While that is unlikely if the Spartans can stay under the 12 loss mark, they likely will find a spot in the group of 64. Winning the Big Ten tournament would give the Spartans an automatic berth. Since 1999, Michigan State's record in its last five games of the season is 23-2.
For MSU, they've gone as their star, Paul Davis has gone. When Davis has been successful inside, the Spartans have won, when he is handled inside, MSU has lost more often than not.
Freshman Shannon Brown has begun to assert himself on the rest of the Big Ten and appears to have a bright future ahead. Brown is averaging 9.0 ppg and 2.9 rebounds.
MSU was on track to knock off the Boilermakers in the initial meeting when junior forward Alan Anderson went to the free throw line with a chance to give the Spartans a four-point lead with 15 seconds left, but instead missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Spartans had wiped out a 10 point Purdue lead with a 15-4 run, but Purdue scored with less than 10 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
The Spartans shot just 26% in the extra session, dooming them to one of their tougher losses of the season.
It's a very hard loss," Spartans guard Chris Hill said after the loss, who had 18 points and six assists. "Obviously we played well enough to win and had ourselves in a great position to do it."
For a win tonight, Michigan State will need to do a better job containing senior guard Kenneth Lowe and junior Brandon McKnight. Lowe led the Boilers with 18 and McKnight hit a critical three-point shot in overtime that put the game out of reach.