Michigan St.-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated Press

While the home team has generally controlled this series of late, Big Ten-leading Michigan State pulled out a gritty win during its last visit to Madison.

The No. 13 Spartans know a repeat performance won't be easy to come by.

Surging Michigan State aims for a fourth consecutive victory over Wisconsin, which looks to extend its home winning streak to eight Tuesday night.

The Spartans (16-3, 5-1), who've taken seven straight from Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1) on their own court, had been outscored by an average of 13.4 points during an eight-game skid at the Kohl Center before escaping with a 63-60 overtime win last Jan. 3.

Michigan State went on to beat Wisconsin 69-55 at the Breslin Center and 65-52 in last season's conference tournament, but the Badgers have to be feeling good about getting back in front of their home crowd. Coach Bo Ryan's team has outscored opponents by an average of 24.4 points during its run at home, most recently cruising to a 74-51 rout of then-No. 12 Illinois on Jan. 12.

"Going on the road against Wisconsin is going to be a tough game for us because Wisconsin is a great team," Spartans guard Branden Dawson said. "Last year, we beat them at home, I'd say we stole one from them. They're going to be looking for revenge. They're going to come out and play as hard as they can and we are just going to have to keep our composure and play hard. We have to keep winning together as a team."

Michigan State enters this showdown seeking a season best-tying sixth consecutive win after sneaking by then-No. 11 Ohio State 59-56 on Saturday. Junior standout Keith Appling scored a team-high 15 points, including six over the last 41 seconds.

"Appling at winning time has been as good as anybody," coach Tom Izzo told the Spartans' official website. "He's just got to get that a little earlier in the game. I've got to make sure Keith understands he's got to play that way in the first 35 minutes."

The Spartans will likely be counting on Appling all the more during this difficult two-game road stretch. They visit No. 7 Indiana on Sunday.

"Playing away will be tough but in order to win Big Ten championships you have to be able to win on the road regardless of the crowd or what the team brings," Dawson said. "We need to keep up our momentum and continue the success. As we continue this season we will keep improving and get the championships we want."

Wisconsin beat the Hoosiers 64-59 in Bloomington last Tuesday but couldn't keep up Saturday in a 70-66 loss at Iowa. Seniors Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans, averaging a combined 23.9 points, totaled 14 as the Badgers' starting five scored just 31.

Freshman George Marshall proved to be a bright spot, posting a season-high 20 points in 15 minutes off the bench.

"Our seniors really struggled, but it's not their fault," Ryan told the school's official website. "Sometimes when (the seniors) struggle the other players need to pick up the slack. If you aren't getting it from one place, you have to get it from another."

The Badgers will be without reserve Frank Kaminsky for a second straight game due to an eye injury. They could also be missing Marshall, whose status is unknown after sitting out Monday's practice with an illness.

Wisconsin has taken 12 of 15 home matchups against Top 25 opponents, though each of those losses came last season.

What to Read Next