No. 1/1 Michigan State Hosts Maryland in Big Ten Conference Game
Michigan State’s men’s basketball team returns back to Big Ten Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 4, hosting Maryland at the Breslin Center. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.
The game will be shown live on FS1, with Gus Johnson calling the play-by-play and Bill Raftery serving as the color analyst. The Spartan Sports Network radio call can be heard on one of 38 affiliates and on the web at SpartanSportsNetwork.com, with Will Tieman handling the play-by-play and Matt Steigenga serving as the color analyst. The game can also be heard on Sirius/XM and Internet 84.
The Spartans, winners of 13-straight games, improved to 14-1 overall with a 108-52 win over Savannah State on Sunday at the Breslin Center. It was the fourth-straight game that MSU had scored at least 100 points, the first time in program history the team has done so.
Michigan State is ranked No. 1 in the country in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls. This is the first time Michigan State has been ranked No. 1 in the national polls since the 2015-16 regular season, when the Spartans held the top spot for four weeks. This is just the fifth time in school history, the fourth time under Head Coach Tom Izzo and the 12th week overall that MSU has held the top spot in the AP Top 25. The Spartans were No. 1 for two weeks during the National Championship season of 1978-79, holding the top spot on Jan. 3 and Jan. 9. In 2000-01, MSU reached the top spot on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. MSU held the No. 1 spot for three weeks in 2013-14 (Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 2), posting a 4-1 record. The Spartans have an all-time record of 14-5 at No. 1.
Sophomore forward Nick Ward was named the Big Ten Player of the Week earlier this week. This is the second-straight week a Spartans player has been named the league’s player of the week, following sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges, who earned the honor on December 26. In two games last week, Ward averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes as went 16-of-17 from the field, connecting on 94.1 percent of his shots. He tied his season high in points (22) and rebounds (15) in a 111-61 win over Cleveland State and followed that up with a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor en route to 21 points in a 108-52 win against Savannah State. He registered a pair of double-doubles to bring his season total to four.
Bridges leads Michigan State with 17.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while adding 2.9 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring and seventh in the league in assists.
He is one of five players scoring in double figures for the Spartans. Ward is second with 15.4 points and second on the team with 7.5 rebounds. He ranks first in the Big Ten, and No. 3 nationally, connecting on 72.1 percent of his field goals. Sophomore Joshua Langford is third on the team with 14.1 points, while sophomore guard Cassius Winston is fourth with 13.1 points and leads the team, and ranks No. 11 nationally, with 7.2 assists per game, and freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 10.5 points, is third on the team with 7.1 rebounds and is averaging 3.3 blocked shots per game, which ranks No. 7 in the country.
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Maryland, 6-5, and the Spartans have won three of the last four games against the Terrapins. The two teams have met just twice in East Lansing, with each team taking a game.
Maryland enters the game on Thursday night with a 13-3 overall record and a 2-1 mark in the Big Ten Conference following a 75-69 win over Penn State at home on Wednesday night. The Terrapins have won seven-straight games after losing consecutive games, first to Syracuse (72-70) and then its conference opener at home to Purdue (80-75). Sophomore guard Anthony Cowan leads the team in with 15.6 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. He is also third on the team with 5.0 rebounds. Sophomore forward Kevin Huerter is second on the team with 14.1 points and second with 5.1 rebounds. Huerter has hit a team-high 39 3-point field goals.