Michigan State (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) Streak:
Won 6 Last Game:
Defeated Minnesota 66-61
Keith Appling (averaging 12.1 points and 3.9 assists per game)
Austin Thorton (scoring 4.7 ppg with 3.4 rpg)
Branden Dawson (averaging 8.9 ppg and 4.9 rpg)
Draymond Green (projected Big Ten Player of the Year)
Adreian Payne (averaging 7.0 ppg and 4.2 rpg this season)
Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-14, 4-11) Streak:
Lost 1 Last Game:
Lost to Purdue 83-65
Bo Spencer (led NU with 19 points in loss to Purdue)
Brandon Richardson (averaging 5.7 assists in last three games)
Caleb Walker (averaging 9.7 points in last three games)
Toney McCray (had 14 points in loss to MSU earlier this season)
Brandon Ubel (ranks second in Big Ten with 67 offensive rebounds)
Nebraska has had issues in the low post ever since junior center Jorge Brian Diaz was lost for the season, but it hasn't had to the face the kind of challenge it's going to see in Michigan State's Draymond Green. Arguably one of the best players in all of college basketball, Green comes into tonight's contest averaging 15.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. For the Huskers to have any chance at pulling off the upset over the No. 6 Spartans, they're going to have to do all they can to make sure someone else beats them and not Green.
Be physical 2
Along with trying to match-up with a force like Green, Nebraska has to be able to equal the physicality of Michigan State on both ends of the floor. In their first meeting in Lincoln, the Spartans dominated NU on the glass and at the free throw line, out-rebounding the Huskers 38-24 and went 19-of-21 from the charity stripe, which proved to be the two biggest keys in a 68-55 MSU win. More than anything, Nebraska needs to attack the basket and try to get the Spartans in foul trouble early.
At this point, Nebraska's hopes of any sort of post-season play have basically been reduced to making a run through the Big Ten Tournament and winning the conference title, or at least advancing to the final. That means these remaining three regular season games are mostly about picking up some momentum going into the tournament and, more importantly, pride. It will be a huge task to pull off a win over the Spartans tonight, but it's the kind of game that could be the highlight of NU's season.
Head coach Doc Sadler on NU facing an opponent for the second time in its final three games:
"I think anytime you're more familiar with something, it helps you, whether it be good or bad. In these particular situations, we're going to be more familiar with Michigan Sate, Iowa and Minnesota. Though we're not going to be familiar with the venue, that's OK, because we've played in a lot of tough venues. But personnel wise and things like that, it really helps you."
"I definitely respect the way he plays, the way he approaches the game, the way he leads his team. I mean, you've got to respect a guy that gives 100 percent and gets the most out of his abilities… He's a special player. I mean, he's talented, but then he also has the right approach. He knows when he needs to make plays, and he does it."