Northwestern will travel to Michigan State in their last game of the regular season on Sunday. The Wildcats trek to East Lansing with a seven game losing streak after losing to last place Penn State on Thursday.
This will be NU’s only meeting with the Spartans this season. Northwestern ended a 15 game Michigan State winning 81-74 in the teams’ only meeting last season. John Shurna and Drew Crawford combined for 42 points. The loss of Shurna to graduation and Crawford to season ending shoulder surgery has crippled the Wildcats this year. Add in the loss of six other scholarship players and NU is having its worst season since 2008.
Down to seven scholarship players, Northwestern’s offense has suffered greatly during its losing streak. They haven’t topped 60 points since a 75-60 victory against Purdue on February 2nd. They have shot just 34.2 percent during the streak. Barring a significant upset, Northwestern will have an eight game losing streak for the first time since 2001.
Alex Marcotullio who has seen his minutes and scoring average dip significantly from last season scored a career high 22 points on senior night Thursday. They will need another good game out of Marcotulio to stay competitive. Michigan State is ranked near the top in most the Big Ten’s defensive statistics.
The Spartans still have a chance at the Big Ten title on Sunday. Michigan and Indiana will tip off on Sunday at 3pm CT, two hours before MSU and NU. A Michigan loss would give the Spartans a chance to finish in a four way tie for the Big Ten Title. Ohio State is also in the running. The Buckeyes host Illinois on Sunday at 11:30 CT. The Spartans will know where they stand shortly after tipoff.
Michigan State ended a three game losing streak with a 58-43 victory against Wisconsin thursday night. Keith Appling scored 19 and had five assists and Gary Harris’ with 11 points were the only Spartans in double figures. Adreian Payne had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Sunday marks MSU’s first game in over three weeks against an unranked team. Their three consecutive losses came against came (then) top ranked Indiana, number 18 Ohio State and number four Michigan. The three losses were by a combined 13 points.
The Spartans have ridden a balanced offense this season. Five players average between 9.3 and 13.8 PPG. Appling leads the way. He also leads the team in assists. Payne has six double-doubles this season.
Payne, Harris and Travis Trice are all players to watch from beyond the arc. They all average over 40 percent on their three-point attempts.
NU and State will tip-off at 5pm CT on the Big Ten Network.