Michigan State opens Big Ten play tonight at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers won just eight games last season but went 12-1 in their nonconference schedule this year and are looking to continue that good start against the Spartans.
Michigan State (8-5) has won seven of the last 10 games against Minnesota, including a 69-61 victory in Minneapolis last January. This will be the first of two games between the teams in the next two weeks; Minnesota will be at the Breslin Center on Jan. 11 for a return game.
Freshman point guard Cassius Winston leads the Big Ten in assists, averaging 6.0 per game, while freshman forward Nick Ward has scored in double figures seven straight games for the Spartans. Minnesota has four players averaging double figures, led by junior guard Nate Mason’s 13.2 points per game.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch/listen to the Michigan State at Minnesota matchup:
Michigan State at Minnesota: game time, details
Time: 9 p.m. (ET) tip-off
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 27
Location: Williams Arena, Minneapolis.
The line: Minnesota is favored by 5 points.
Which TV channel is Michigan State at Minnesota on?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
How can I watch Michigan State at Minnesota online?
How can I listen to Michigan State at Minnesota on the radio?
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/XM Channel 84.
Who is calling the Michigan State at Minnesota game?
Rich Hollenberg will handle play-by-play for ESPN2 with analyst Fran Fraschilla. Will Tieman will call play-by-play with analysts Matt Steigenga on the Spartan Sports Network.
Welcome to the Big Ten
Michigan State will still be without star freshman Miles Bridges, but the other three freshmen will be playing their first conference game. It will be on the road in a place where the home folks will be revved up to see if their Gophers are as improved as they showed during nonconference play.
Winston has steadily garnered more playing time from junior Tum Tum Nairn, Jr., who is dealing with stiffness in his left foot. Ward has proven to be the instigator of the offense. The Spartans are better in the half-court when he touches the ball. Guard Joshua Langford is still trying to find his groove. Those three have to be on their games for Michigan State to get the win.
Make shots early
Minnesota leads the Big Ten in field goal shooting defense, allowing just 37.1 percent made attempts. It is second in 3-point defense, allowing just 28.5 percent. The Spartans don’t want to play comeback all night. Eron Harris and Matt McQuaid are more than capable of getting good looks from the outside. They need to take them when they’re available.
Michigan State is shooting 47.4 percent from the floor as a team, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range. The Spartans are second in the Big Ten, averaging 18.8 assists per game.
Cut down the turnovers
Despite all those assists, Michigan State is just No. 7 in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.3 per game. The Spartans are turning the ball over a whopping 21.2 percent of their possessions, according to KemPom.com analytics. Their turnover margin of minus-3.4 per game is next-to-last in the Big Ten. Minnesota is a plus-1.8 with its turnover margin.