When two good teams play each other, it’s obviously important for both teams, but in the long run maybe more important for the road team. Whenever you play at home, there’s always a chance for a win no matter who you play. On the road, those chances are slimmed down. At the end of the year, the committee will look to see if a team had any good wins on the road considering it’s inevitable for teams ranked in the Top 25 to have a couple home wins over top opponents.
That’s where Ohio State comes in for this Game. So far, their best road win of the year came at Purdue. They lost their only two true road rests, at Duke and a demolishing at Illinois. The Buckeyes made a statement with their win over Michigan last Sunday, but that Game was played in Columbus.
Michigan State has looked shaky for most of the season. If you take out their win over Kansas on a neutral cOurt, they haven’t really done anything all that impressive. Their losses have come against Connecticut, Miami (FL) and Minnesota. In all three of those Games, they were down for the majority of the time.
Prior to their most recent Game at Penn State, two of their players got in a fight at their hotel and the cops were called. Fortunately for the Spartans, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson are roommates and probably don’t secretly hate each other. They both sat in the first half against the Nittany Lions, but came up big in the second half, more so Payne who had a season-high 20 points in only 17 minutes of play.
Both of these teams are in similar situations, losing their best players from last year’s squad. MSU lost do-it-all Draymond Green while OSU said goodbye to top scorer Jared Sullinger. While both have gone through some growing pains, they still find themselves in contention at the top of the Big 10.
The Spartans have had trouble finding a spark on offense for much of the season without Green who usually ran the offense. Keith Appling has stepped up in every single category including shooting percentage, but even he has moments where he disappears. In fact, he has only shot 7-for-30 in the last three Games. Appling was the reason they beat the Jayhawks and he will need to improve in these bigger Games for MSU to be a factor in the Big 10. Freshman Gary Harris has been one of their more consistent contributors even though he dealt with a shoulder injury early in the year. OUtside of those two, Dawson, Payne and Derrick Nix have their standout Games, but can never put together multiple quality Games. However, this might be time for Payne to do so as he’s an Ohio-native and usually has his better Games against the Buckeyes.
Without Sulley, Ohio State has leaned on Deshaun Thomas all season and he has provided. He’s scoring more than 20 points to go with 6.6 boards per Game. Thomas is taking close to three more 3-pointers per Game than last year, but he’s hitting 5% more of them which is something you don’t see too often. OUtside of him, things have been dicey to say the least. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is their next best scorer at 10.3 PPG. Aaron Craft was supposed to take a leap offensively, but that hasn’t really happened. He’s taking more shots, but hitting under 40 percent of them. Craft is a great defender and should be able to bottle up Appling, but can he do anything offensively?
The matchup to watch will be Dawson on Thomas. When these guys first saw each other last year, Dawson held Thomas to one of his worst shooting days of the season at 2-for-12 from the field and only eight points. That’s all the info we have from those two as Dawson tore his ACL early in their second meeting. Dawson has the athleticism to stay with Thomas which could prove to be fatal for the Buckeyes unless Craft can find his shooting touch.
Predicted Score- Ohio State 62 Michigan State 60
For information on getting Our predicted scores for every Game on the board click here