PREVIEW: Michigan State hosts Ohio St.

The Big Ten conference race enter its last two weeks with Iowa at the top at 9-4 and three others (Illinois, Ohio State, and Wisconsin) all just half a game behind at 8-4.

EAST LANSING - The Big Ten conference race enter its last two weeks with Iowa at the top at 9-4 and three others (Illinois, Ohio State, and Wisconsin) all just half a game behind at 8-4.

# 16 Michigan State (19-7, 7-5 Big Ten) looks to record its 20th victory of the season and stir up the conference even more as they host #12 Ohio State (19-4, 8-4 Big Ten).

The Spartans sit just one game back of Iowa and the other teams for first place in the Big Ten with three of their four remaining games against the teams at the top.

In their earlier meeting this season, these two high-powered offenses both struggled, as they headed into overtime tied at 46. The Spartans pulled out the victory in Columbus, 62-59 in double-overtime, in a game that was expected to be high-scoring.

In that game, MSU power forward Matt Trannon scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, proving to be picking up the slack created by Maurice Ager's two points in the game.

But things went bad for Trannon on Saturday after the Spartans defeated Michigan 90-71. Trannon was involved in a collision with teammate Shannon Brown and Michigan forward Graham Brown that left Trannon with a broken jaw. Trannon is out indefinitely as the Spartans suffer a tough blow to their team in a critical time of year.

Red shirt freshman Marquise Gray will see a lot of minutes in Trannon's place with Goran Suton and Delco Rowley also seeing time.

Shannon Brown led MSU with 26 points against the Wolverines over the weekend, with Ager adding in 19 points and Paul Davis with 18 points. The Spartan trio continues to put up big numbers this season, which is why all three are midseason candidates for the Naismith Award, which is given to the top college basketball player in both men's and women's basketball.

The Buckeyes are led by senior big-man Terence Dials, who averages a team-high 14.6 points per game. OSU also features four seniors in their starting lineup: Matt Sylvester (8.2 points per game), J.J. Sullinger (9.6 ppg), and Je'Kel Foster (14 ppg).

"They are playing as well as anybody in the league right now," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "Foster has made some shots, Dials is very difficult to defend inside. It's hard to double-down and get help on him."

The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (.408) and their players take a lot of shots from deep. The may have been a downfall for them in the loss to MSU this year, as they missed many shots from deep while the Spartans took the ball inside and scored.

"They live by the three and die by the three. Our job is going to be to defend very well and build on the Michigan game and not turn the ball over," said Izzo. "Taking care of the ball is a big issue and even more is staying out of foul trouble."

The Spartans look at their tough schedule with only one more road game this season, at Indiana on Sunday. They are a perfect 11-0 at the Breslin Center this season, which poses well to host key games against Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

While the previous game between the two teams ended up being a surprising defensive battle, Wednesday night's game should see more scoring, as the game is important for both teams.

"I think there might be lots of points scored. It'll be interesting to see how we handle the time without Matt, because he's been an important part of this team," said Izzo.

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