The matchup on Sunday between Michigan State and Maryland on CBS serves as a Big Ten bubble battle royale involving two teams enjoying serious late-season surges that have revitalized their once dire NCAA Tournament hopes. The Terrapins (14-10, 8-9 Big Ten) have won four straight, while the Spartans (13-9, 7-9) have won three in a row, including two against top-five teams.
Oddly enough, the game may only count as a Quad 2 opportunity for Michigan State, though, since its a home contest against a team outside the top-30 of the NET. Maryland sat at No. 31 in the NET entering the weekend. Michigan State is just No. 68 in the NET, but the game will count as a Quad 1 opportunity for the Terrapins since it's a road game against a foe ranked 75th or better.
However you slice it, though, this is a critical game for both teams as they look to carry momentum into final week of the regular season and bolster their resumes before what should be a captivating, high-stakes Big Ten Tournament.
- When: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
- Where: XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland
- TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
- OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
Michigan State: The Spartans dealt with some serious foul trouble and hit just four 3-pointers but managed to upset No. 4 Ohio State 71-67 on Thursday night anyway and reach the "last four in" of the projected NCAA Tournament bracket, according to Jerry Palm's Friday edition of Bracketology. Beating Ohio State followed a huge 81-72 win over No. 5 Illinois on Tuesday that put the Spartans squarely back in the NCAA Tournament conversation. The play of Aaron Henry has been essential during the Spartans' spurt. The 6-foot-6 junior is averaging 21.7 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 53.2% over Michigan State's three-game winning streak dating back to last Saturday's win at Indiana.
Maryland: All five Maryland starters reached double figures in a 68-59 win over Rutgers last Sunday, but junior guards Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins have been particularly solid recently. Wiggins is averaging 18.3 points and 7.8 rebounds over the four-game winning streak, while Ayala has averaged 16 points per game during the same stretch. Their offensive contributions have taken some pressure off sophomore forward Donta Scott, who has been taking fewer shots recently after serving as an offensive focal point earlier in the season. The unsung hero, however, is probably senior guard Darryl Morsell, who is being promoted by the school as a candidate for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Game prediction, pick
Maryland has been great defensively as of late, holding four of its last six opponents below 60 points. In a game with these stakes, that defense may be the determining factor. Prediction: Maryland 71, Michigan State 69
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