Michigan State and Rutgers play at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 10
Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich.
How can I watch the Michigan State-Rutgers basketball game on TV and online?
Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris will call the game.
How can I listen to the Michigan State-Rutgers basketball game on the radio?
Michigan State and Rutgers can be heard 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.
Will Tieman and Matt Steigenga will have the call.
Michigan State-Rutgers basketball preview
We can get this out of the way quickly: Michigan State will not go undefeated in conference play.
It should have been pretty obvious. No team has completed an unblemished Big Ten slate since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, also the last team in NCAA Division I history to complete a perfect season overall. It’s highly improbable and darn near impossible.
And yet the idea had been floated by various publications and talking heads after Michigan State’s 15-1 start earned a No. 1 ranking. The Spartans quickly quelled those talks by taking a decisive defeat at Ohio State.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well,” Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston said. “The hostile environment, we didn’t handle it well. That [12-0 Buckeyes run to end the first half], we didn’t handle that. There’s nothing we can do about it now except learn from it, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Spartans can also learn from their shaky 62-52 win at Rutgers just over a month ago before taking on the Scarlet Knights again Wednesday. If their 10-0 record at home (all wins by at least 18 points) is any indication, this could be a much different story.
Nick Ward will be key to that. He has scored 3 points in each of Michigan State’s two road games so far while shooting 16.7 percent from the field, largely due to double teams and swarming, physical defense. In all other games, he has averaged 16.3 points on 74.4 percent shooting.
“I’ve seen the way they defend me,” Ward said. “They double me every time I touch the ball. I know what to do now.”
Rutgers has had a wild month since losing to Michigan State. The Scarlet Knights beat No. 15 Seton Hall before losing three games in a row, including consecutive defeats to Stony Brook and Hartford. But the Spartans don’t plan to overlook them, even with a weekend rivalry game against Michigan looming.
“We know they’re a very scrappy team,” sophomore star Miles Bridges said of Rutgers. “They like to rebound, so we’ve got to keep them off the glass and stop their guards from dribble penetration.”
Now is not the time to start talking about a 17-1 record in Big Ten play either. It’s been more than a decade since a team has made it through with just one loss. Coach Tom Izzo opts not to set such goals because they are unrealistic.
“We’ve got to get better every day because we need to get a lot better,” Izzo said, “and we’ve got to get everybody doing their job.”