Enter your articTom Izzo and his Michigan State teams have earned a reputation throughout the years for hitting their stride at the right time.
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That, however, will be put to the test over the coming weeks as the Spartans try and dig out of a 2-5 hole in Big Ten play, starting Sunday with a game at No. 13 Ohio State. The Buckeyes (13-4, 7-4 Big Ten) should be licking their chops after seeing that Rutgers dismantled the Spartans 67-37 in Michigan State's first game back after a nearly three-week layoff due to COVID-19.
A prolonged break is the last thing Izzo's squad needed after a rough start, and the rust was clear during their offensively inept return. Still, it would be foolish to count Michigan State out completely, even as it sits at No. 95 in the NET rankings. The Spartans won their final five Big Ten games last season to clinch a share of the league title. The stars from that team, Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman, are gone now, and a league title is all but out of reach. But most of this year's rotation was along for that ride.
Now, the key will be getting a couple of players to step up to lead this team out of the doldrums in the nation's most-challenging conference.
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When: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have won five of six and have risen 10 spots from their preseason No. 10 ranking even while dealing with injuries to key players. Backup point guard Jimmy Sotos remains out, but starter CJ Walker is back after missing four games due to a hand injury, and the Buckeyes are 2-0 since his return. Wednesday's 83-79 win against Penn State required a late rally, led by sophomore forward E.J. Liddell, who scored 22 points.
Michigan State: The Spartans are likely to still be without junior forward Gabe Brown after the key reserve recently tested positive for COVID-19, but his absence shouldn't be a backbreaker for a team with this much talent. No one scored more than seven points for Michigan State against Rutgers as the Spartans hit an abysmal 28.6% of their shots while committing 19 turnovers. Izzo is still toying with his lineups and it will be interesting to see if he keeps that up against the Buckeyes.
Game prediction, pick
The Buckeyes are on a roll, playing with confidence and knocking down a ton of 3-pointers in league play. Michigan State might still turn things around, but it would take a giant leap of faith to bet on the Spartans after their dismal return against Rutgers earlier this week. Prediction: Ohio State -7.5 | Ohio State 73, Michigan State 64
So who wins every college basketball game today? And which underdogs pull off stunning upsets? Visit SportsLine now to get picks for every game, all from the unbiased model that simulates every game 10,000 times, and find out.
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