Opponent Preview: Michigan State

Both the Gophers and Spartans are coming off tough losses to ranked teams. Also, both teams will be looking for their first Big Ten win of the season. While the Gophers have struggled against the Spartans, Friday's game should be a physical, back-and-forth game that should excite fans of both sides. Tip-off at the Breslin Center is set for 3:00 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

No. 13 Minnesota (11-2, 0-1) vs. No. 19 Michigan State (8-4, 0-0)
East Lansing, Mich. – Breslin Center
3:00 p.m. CT – Big Ten Network (Eric Collins, Jim Jackson)

Game Preview

The Gophers' last game against Wisconsin was quite a disappointment, losing to their rivals by a score of 68-60. Despite losing by eight points, the Gophers were in the game until the final minute. Minnesota held a 42-24 rebounding edge against the Badgers but came up short.

Tom Izzo is famed for having teams who excel at rebounding. If the Gophers want to beat Michigan State on Friday they will need to keep the Spartans off the boards.

As a team, Michigan State is shooting an impressive 40% from deep, ranking them third in the conference. This hot shooting could prove detrimental to Minnesota whose opponents are averaging 36.8 from behind the line ranking them next-to-last in the conference.

The Gophers have struggled against teams that can shoot from three due to poor closing-out and slow switching on defense. Minnesota will need to play their best defense if they want to walk out of East Lansing with a victory.

Game Notes

Quote to Note: Tubby Smith on losing Mo Walker for the season: "We've got a lot of things going on, with Maurice Walker, losing him for the season is a real, been a blow to us. And I thought we could've used him in the game against Wisconsin, a big body, and that's going to be one of the issues going up against Michigan State. They're a team that's very talented."

Season to Date: Michigan State's record of 8-4 does not represent the way that the Spartans have played this season. The Spartans have played one of the toughest non-conference records in the nation. They have losses against Connecticut, Duke, Syracuse, and Texas but have solid wins against Washington and South Carolina. The tough non-conference schedule will have the Spartans ready for the Gophers on Friday.

Coaching Preview: Tom Izzo is arguably the best coach the Gophers will face this season. Izzo is in his 16th season with the Spartans and has amassed a record of 371-49. He is known for his post-season success which includes one national title, six Final Four appearances, and two Big Ten tournament championships. The six Final Four appearances have come within the past 12 seasons. Izzo will surely have a tough, hard-nosed team when he steps on the floor against the Gophers.

Series History: Incredibly, the Gophers hold the series lead by a tally of 54-51 over the Spartans. The last time these two teams met was last season in the Big Ten Tournament with the Gophers winning by a score of 72-67 in overtime. Minnesota has not beat Michigan State in the regular season since February 11th of 2006, almost five years ago. Tubby Smith is 3-11 against the Spartans.

Random Fact: Michigan State is the only team ranked in the top-25 with more than three losses. The early adversity faced by the Spartans should help them against ranked opponents like the Gophers.

Projected Starters:
C 41 Garrick Sherman 5.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
F 23 Draymond Green 12.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg
G 11 Keith Appling 6.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg
G 15 Durrell Summers 15.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg
G 1 Kalin Lucas 14.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg

Background:
Location: East Lansing Michigan
Enrollment: 36,489 Undergraduate, 47,278 Total
Conference: Big Ten
Mascot: Spartan
Coach: Tom Izzo (16th Season)


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