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Maryland vs. Michigan State preview: Terps aim for season sweep of Spartans

Maryland can make a big statement with another win over Tom Izzo's squad Saturday.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

After an unexpectedly tough win against Rutgers, Maryland looks to make it three Big Ten wins in a row Saturday when they face the Michigan State Spartans in College Park. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on CBS.

The Terrapins won the first game between these two schools back on December 30 in East Lansing, beating the Spartans 68-66 in double overtime. Michigan State has won their three games since, beating Indiana, Iowa (on the road) and Northwestern, and moved up to No. 19 in the KenPom rankings. Maryland is ranked No. 21.

Michigan State is one of Maryland's toughest tests left on the schedule -- by KenPom, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only other top-20 teams still to play. Tom Izzo's squad is 12-5 on the season, with a 3-1 record in Big Ten play. After a shaky start to the season, the Spartans are back on track for their 18th straight tournament appearance.

Players to know

Travis Trice, senior, 6'0. Trice looked like Michigan State's best player when we saw them last, and he's now the team's leading scorer with 14.3 points per game. He's also one of the best passers in the league, averaging 6.1 assists per game, and will likely give Melo Trimble a tough test again.

Denzel Valentine, junior, 6'5. Valentine's three-point shooting has fallen off since Maryland last played the Spartans, but he's still one of the best options in the conference from deep.

Branden Dawson, senior, 6'6. Dawson was basically a non-factor in 43 minutes against Maryland, but has averaged 13.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game since.

Matt Costello, junior, 6'9. The best shotblocker on the team, Costello also gives Michigan State another excellent rebounder on the inside.

Bryn Forbes, junior, 6'3. Still one of the most efficient offensive players in the country, Forbes is shooting 50.5% from the floor (46.8% from three) and almost never turns over the ball.


Three-point shooting. The Spartans are hitting 41.3% of their deep shots this season, good for seventh in the nation. They have four dangerous shooters in Valentine, Trice, Forbes and Marvin Clark, and any of them could get hot on the perimeter.

Rebounding. Between the now fully healthy Dawson and Costello, Michigan State has two of the better frontcourt players in the conference. Opponents rebound only 25.6 percent of their own missed shots against the Spartans (No. 13 in the country), while Michigan State picks up 34.2 percent of their offensive rebounding opportunities (No. 78).


Forcing turnovers. Michigan State forces a steal on 8.6 percent of opponent possessions, good for 235th in the country. Dawson is a strong defensive presence and the team does a good job of limiting open shot opportunities, but opponents don't usually have ball-handling problems against them.

Free throw shooting. Due to their emphasis on three-point shooting, Michigan State rarely ends up cutting inside and getting to the line. Even when they do, they're not great -- they've made 64.6 percent of shots from there this season.


KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 67-64. The Terrapins are given a 64 percent chance of winning.

Pete's prediction: Michigan State, 73-67. Maryland has been playing sloppy basketball recently, while the Spartans (and Dawson) have gotten much better.