EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State freshman PG Cassius Winston, alerted to the bloody scratch on his arm after practice on Tuesday, shrugged it off.
It’s the time of year for particularly intense practices and battle wounds of unknown origins. Spring break doesn’t mean relaxation for the Spartans. They have a postseason to prepare for.
On Thursday, that campaign finally tips off as fifth-seeded Michigan State faces 13th-seeded Penn State in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Nittany Lions advanced after ending a five-game losing streak with a 76-67 first-round win against Nebraska on Wednesday.
The Spartans will take on Penn State tomorrow in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. pic.twitter.com/lIYBdutq5N
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 9, 2017
Michigan State and Penn State faced off just once during the regular season, a 72-63 neutral-site win for the Nittany Lions at the Palestra in Philadelphia on Jan. 7. Spartans coach Tom Izzo seemed to be anticipating a PSU victory when he spoke at his Tuesday news conference, though surely he would have preferred to face a Nebraska squad his team beat twice during the regular season.
Only one team has won the Big Ten Tournament when beginning play Thursday or earlier. But with such a young team, Michigan State’s players don’t pay attention much to that kind of history.
Here is everything you need to know about how to watch or listen to Thursday’s matchup.
Michigan State basketball vs. Penn State game time, details
Time: 25 minutes after Illinois-Michigan; approximately 2:30 p.m. ET
Date: Thursday, March 9
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Which TV channel broadcasts Michigan State basketball vs. Penn State?
The game airs on the Big Ten Network.
How can I watch Michigan State basketball vs. Penn State online?
How can I listen to Michigan State basketball vs. Penn State 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. Penn State game?
Kevin Kugler will handle play-by-play for BTN, while Jon Crispin will provide analysis. Will Tieman will handle play-by-play alongside analyst Matt Steigenga on the Spartan Sports Network.
Michigan State basketball vs. Penn State three keys
Take care of the ball
This talking point won’t go away just because Michigan State posted a season-low 8 turnovers against Maryland on Saturday. Now the Spartans face one of the Big Ten’s tougher perimeter defenses, a team that averages 6.9 steals per game. When these teams met on Jan. 7, Michigan State turned the ball over 17 times against the aggressive Nittany Lions. Now that it’s one-and-done season, Izzo’s team can’t afford that many missed opportunities on offense.
Grind it out
This isn’t the type of setting where you want to push the pace and try to tire the other team. Every squad wants to stay fresh enough to be ready to play the next day. Besides, getting in a track meet with the Nittany Lions usually doesn’t end well, even if Penn State played Wednesday. Michigan State needs to settle into its half-court offense, feed Nick Ward in the post and get a more focused Miles Bridges than it did the last time these teams met.
Penn State does not rebound the ball well. In fact, it ranks last in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at minus-3. But on Jan. 7, Michigan State managed a paltry 4 offensive rebounds on 33 missed shots while allowing Penn State 9 of its own. The Spartans’ ability to control the boards will determine this game much like turnovers. They don’t have to shoot particularly well if they find ways to give themselves more chances at scoring than they do Penn State.