Going into Saturday’s regular-season finale, Michigan State (18-12, 10-7 Big Ten) has the satisfaction of knowing its fate is in its own hands.
Win at Maryland (23-7, 11-6), and the Spartans grab third place in the Big Ten. Lose, and they miss out on the coveted double bye in the Big Ten Tournament by finishing as low as seventh in the standings.
The Terrapins would guarantee themselves a third-place finish with a win. However, they could also earn a double bye even with a loss, provided that struggling Wisconsin beats surging Minnesota on Sunday.
Basically, a lot rides on the outcome, particularly for Michigan State, which would all but secure an NCAA Tournament berth with a win. That would require getting the job done away from home, though, which the Spartans have done just once in seven tries this calendar year.
Maryland, though, has looked vulnerable at Xfinity Center, losing three of its last four. Senior day will serve as a crucial opportunity to get back on track before the postseason, should they take it.
Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland game time, details
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Date: Saturday, March 4
Location: Xfinity Center, College Park, Md.
Which TV channel broadcasts Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland?
The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.
How can I watch Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland online?
How can I listen to Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland on the radio?
For Michigan State, the game can be heard on radio over the 38-affiliate Spartan Sports Network, including flagship stations WMMQ-FM (94.9)/WJIM-AM (1240) in Lansing and WJR-AM (760) in Detroit. It is also on Sirius 135/XM 195.
Who is calling the Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland game?
Kevin Kugler will handle play-by-play for BTN with Jon Crispin providing analysis. Will Tieman handles play-by-play with analyst Matt Steigenga on the Spartan Sports Network.
Michigan State basketball vs. Maryland 3 keys
Stay in front
So much on Saturday will depend on Michigan State’s ability to defend without requiring too much help from teammates, and to do so without fouling. Led by Melo Trimble, Maryland likes to slash to the basket at every opportunity, which could create problems. Michigan State looks best offensively with Cassius Winston at point guard, but if he can’t contain Trimble, the Spartans may have to stick with Tum Tum Nairn.
Should Trimble be able to get by his initial defender and draw help, he knows how to find his shooters, and Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter know how to knock down outside shots. Michigan State’s trouble defending dribble drives led to countless open looks against Illinois, and that can’t happen again if the Spartans hope to come away victorious.
Don’t succumb to the crowd
For the second game in a row, Michigan State will face a raucous senior day crowd. Maryland tends to be one of the rowdiest venues in the Big Ten. With such a young team, Michigan State has often struggled to deal with dwindling momentum on the road. Opponents make a run and Michigan State responds not by running crisp offensive sets, but by turning the ball over.
When Maryland inevitably goes on a run and gets the home crowd going, Michigan State must either utilize its timeouts better or rely on the calming influence of a point guard to make sure it gets good shots on the offensive end and doesn’t lose focus.
Crash the glass
This has been a huge factor the past several games. Michigan State has played some of the best defensive rebounding teams in the conference and found a way to give itself second chances, despite giving up several inches of height to just about every opponent.
Now the Spartans take on the second-worst defensive rebounding team (by percentage) in the Big Ten. This looks like a perfect opportunity for wings like Miles Bridges and Josh Langford to go after any and all missed shots. Points never seem easy to come by for the Spartans on the road. Grabbing offensive rebounds will allow a greater margin for error.