Michigan and Michigan State just played two days ago and it was a rout. The Wolverines led by as much as 28 points in the second half and ultimately won by 19, clinching the regular season Big Ten title in the process. Michigan State didn't have any answers for the maize and blue and I expect today's game to be pretty similar for a few reasons.
No one to check Hunter Dickinson
In round one, Dickinson found himself on the bench a bit more than usual playing just 23 minutes but he still scored 14 points on a very efficient 6-of-8 shooting performance. He also grabbed 10 rebounds giving him a double-double against a Michigan State team that just doesn't have the beef to go toe-to-toe with U-M's big freshman. Dickinson did turn the ball over six times, which he'll certainly try to clean up later today, but he's just too big, too skilled and too efficient for MSU to keep in check.
Franz Wagner is in kill mode
Even with a two-point clunker against Illinois in there, Wagner is averaging nearly 15 points over his last five games and he's shooting the three at a 47% clip. Wagner was a weapon as a freshman but this year he's a little taller, substantially stronger and much more confident. He's also got a tighter handle and, at 6-10, that's a real problem for defenders. When he turns the corner, goes downhill and elevates at the rim, there are no guards, maybe in the country, who can defend it. Michigan State's best chance at slowing him down is with Gabe Brown, who goes 6-8 with good athleticism, but it obviously didn't work on Thursday as Wagner shot 50% from the floor and knocked in four three-pointers on six attempts.
Michigan's defense is too good and Michigan State's offense is too bad
Michigan State is not a good three-point shooting team in general, but they went 0-for-9 from distance against U-M in Ann Arbor on Thursday. They probably won't shoot it that poorly in their own building today, but a lot of that was because of how Michigan defended the three-point line and how much length they have between Wagner, Isaiah Livers and even Eli Brooks, who has a large wingspan for being 6-1. He's also very quick, smart and technically sound when it comes to closing out.
All in all, Michigan is No. 4 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, which simply means they don't give up very many points per 100 possessions, and Michigan State is No. 96 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, which means they don't score very many points per 100 possessions. It's just a bad matchup for MSU and I don't think it would matter how many times they play — Michigan would almost always come out on top.
The confidence levels of each team
This point relates to the previous one — Michigan is good and they know it, and Michigan State is pretty bad and they know it. It's tough to bounce back from a drubbing (although Michigan just did exactly that after getting killed by Illinois) when you know the other team is flat out better. Anyone who has ever played sports has taken one on the chin. When you do, it's hard to imagine turning the tables enough to actually beat that opponent. The Wolverines are a bad matchup for the Spartans and everyone on both teams knows that Michigan's win on Thursday could've easily been by 30 had the benches not been emptied.
I expect Michigan State to come out swinging on their home court today, but I just don't think it matters. Michigan is better in every area of the game and should be able to impose its will on Sparty. If Michigan gets up by even a little bit early, they'll never look back and MSU will lose without ever leading just like they did on Thursday.