Opponent Preview: Michigan State

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will look to extend their conference winning streak to four games on Wednesday evening against the Michigan State Spartans. Tip-off at the Breslin Center is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Minnesota (15-5, 3-4) vs. No. 11 Michigan State (16-4, 5-2)
East Lansing, Mich. – Breslin Center
7:30 p.m. CT – Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson, Shon Morris)

Quotable

"I think it's on a million. It's on a million. It's real high right now. Because I feel like I worked hard to get to this point, so it's paying off. But I just stay humble and I keep working because, you know, just as quick as it's given to me, it can be taken in a matter of seconds." — Michigan State junior center Derrick Nix on his confidence

"Honestly, I thought he was a little soft coming out of high school, a little bit. I thought that was one of the concerns for him. And he's just kind of taken a negative and made it a positive. He's just kind of vowed that that's not gonna be a problem." — MSU coach Tom Izzo on freshman guard Brandan Kearney

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: The Spartans are an impressive 16-4 on the year, including a 5-2 record in the Big Ten. Michigan State began the year with consecutive losses to two ranked teams, North Carolina and Duke. The Spartans responded to the winless start by rattling off 15 straight wins. Michigan State has had a recent tough stretch in which they have lost two of their last three games including a meltdown against Northwestern and a 60-59 loss to rival Michigan. The Spartans would be wise to not overlook the Gophers who are winners of three straight conference games heading in to Wednesday's matchup.

Coaching Preview: Tom Izzo is in his 17th season with the Spartans and has amassed a record of 383-161. 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. Against the Golden Gophers, Izzo holds a 23-8 record.

Last Meeting: Michigan State defeated Minnesota, 53-48, on Feb. 22, 2011, in Minneapolis. Trevor Mbakwe led the Gophers with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Kalin Lucas paced the Spartans with a game-high 18 points.

Series History: The Spartans hold the all-time series lead by a tally of 61-57 over the Golden Gophers. Michigan State has won 10 of the last 11 meetings against Minnesota.

Block Party: Coming into the contest, the Gophers and Spartans are atop the Big Ten in blocked shots per game. Minnesota leads with 5.9 blocks while Michigan State is averaging 4.7 per contest. Look for a possible defense battle on Wednesday in East Lansing.

Stat Stuffer: Star forward Draymond Green has been filling up the stat sheet this season for the Spartans. He currently ranks in the top ten in the conference in points, rebounds, blocks, steals, and assists.

Projected Starters:
C 5 Adreian Payne (6-10, 240, So.) - 6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F 23 Draymond Green (6-7, 230, Sr.) - 15.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg
G 22 Branden Dawson (6-6, 220, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg
G 30 Brandon Wood (6-2, 190, Sr.) - 9.7 ppg, 2.3 apg
G 11 Keith Appling (6-1, 180, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 4.0 apg

Background:
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Enrollment: 47,800
Conference: Big Ten
Mascot: Spartan
Coach: Tom Izzo (17th Season)


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