Iowa-Michigan St. Preview


Michigan State continues to climb the rankings behind its longest winning streak in 13 seasons.

If history is any indication, a visit from Iowa isn't likely to slow down the Spartans.

Looking to extend its overall run to 15 games, No. 6 Michigan State tries for a 17th consecutive home victory over the Hawkeyes on Tuesday night.

The Spartans (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten), who opened the season unranked, jumped four spots in the latest AP poll after a controversial 63-60 overtime win at then-No. 18 Wisconsin last Tuesday in their only game of the week. The Badgers appeared to have tied the game on a 3-pointer at the buzzer in OT, but the shot was disallowed after officials determined time had already expired.

"I don't know what happened at the end," coach Tom Izzo said. "Nor do I care. I thought we played well enough and earned the win, and that's the way I'm going to look at it."

Since opening with back-to-back losses to then-No. 1 North Carolina and then-No. 6 Duke, Michigan State has outscored opponents by an average of 19.7 points during its 14-game run. It's the Spartans' longest win streak since recording 22 straight victories Jan. 9-March 21, 1999, before falling to the Blue Devils in the Final Four.

Izzo's team, which has taken 36 of 37 home games versus unranked opponents, has handed Iowa 16 consecutive losses at the Breslin Center - including an 85-66 victory March 2 behind 18 points from Keith Appling. The Hawkeyes (10-7, 2-2) haven't won in East Lansing since a 96-90 overtime victory Jan. 28, 1993.

However, Michigan State should not be taking them lightly. Three days before the Spartans' narrow win at Wisconsin, Iowa snapped a nine-game road losing streak in Madison with a 72-65 win over the then-No. 11 Badgers. The Hawkeyes had dropped 16 straight road games versus Top 25 foes.

After improving to 2-0 on the road in conference play for the first time since 2000-01 with Wednesday's 64-62 win at Minnesota, Iowa failed to carry over any momentum into Saturday's home game with then-No. 6 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes posted their lowest scoring output of the season and most lopsided defeat in almost two years, falling 76-47.

"You know, we win on the road, twice, we are not sneaking up on anybody anymore ... That's what we have to understand, because the next two games are against ranked opponents, as well," coach Fran McCaffery, whose team hosts No. 13 Michigan on Saturday, told the school's official website.

"We have to learn from it, grow and affect change. It is one game, it's in the past, and now we have got to go on to the next one and come up with another game plan. We need to go out there and play with the level of intensity that we did the previous two games."

The Hawkeyes could have their hands full with Appling, who is averaging 18.5 points - 6.0 more than his season mark - over the last four contests.

Senior Draymond Green also could present matchup problems. The intimidating 6-foot-7 forward is averaging a team-high 15.6 points and a conference-best 9.8 rebounds. He had 18 and 14, respectively, last Tuesday for his fourth double-double in six games.

Matt Gatens, meanwhile, continues to pace the Hawkeyes with 13.2 points per game. The senior guard, however, scored a combined 12 while going 5 of 17 from the field during Iowa's two matchups against ranked opponents.