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Maryland women's basketball opens B1G Tourney with Michigan State

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The Terps and Spartans will face off for a third time. Michigan State routed Michigan to reach the quarterfinals while the Terps spent an extra night waiting in Hoffman Estates thanks to a weather-related travel exemption.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland Terrapins women's basketball team arrived in Hoffman Estates a day earlier than B1G travel restrictions allow. The league granted the team an exemption to travel in advance of Thursday's storm.

The first time Maryland and Michigan State played, the Spartans came to College Park and the Terps pummeled the Spartans running them to exhaustion in an 85-56 rout. Michigan State closed the gap significantly when the Terps traveled to East Lansing when Maryland squeaked out a 75-69 win that could have been much closer had MSU shot better than 7-of-18 from the free throw line.

How the Spartans advanced

Michigan State entered the tournament as the ninth seed to face the eighth-seeded Michigan Wolverines. The Spartans won the early morning contest largely on the strength of a soaring first half when they made 16-of-29 from the field that included an almost absurd 7-of-11 from behind the arc. MSU also added seven of eight from the free throw line in building a 46-22 halftime lead.

In the second half, Michigan State descended from the stratosphere in shooting a considerably more terrestrial 8-of-21 while making only two of nine attempts from three point range. However, they held the cold shooting (19-70 / 4-24) Wolverines at bay and were never seriously challenged in their 69-46 win.

What's in store

In terms of personnel, little has changed for Michigan State since either of the two previous meetings.The Spartans are still a thin team that rotates seven players of the eight players on their roster. In Thursday's game, Aerial Powers, Becca Mills, and Anna Morrissey all played at least 35 minutes.

For Michigan State, everything more or less revolves around two players - Powers and Tori Jankoska. Powers had 16 points and 15 rebounds for her  23rd double double of the season in the win over Michigan who has never beaten the Spartans in five tries in B1G Tournament play. Jankoska added 15 points in just 27 minutes.

However, the Spatans have been playing better and more balanced basketball of late. Center Becca Mills scored 11 and Lexi Gussert, who was 4-4 from three point range in the first half finished with a career high 16 points in her 26 minutes.

The Spartans, who have won four straight since their loss to Maryland, had a comfortable 42-35 rebounding margin over the Wolverines. After nearly hanging with the Terps (38-37) on the boards at Maryland, they did not challenge the Terrapins dominated the glass in East Lansing when they pulled down 15 more rebounds than MSU.

The game is one Maryland should win but they can't take MSU lightly. The Spartans are playing well and with confidence and have one win in five tries against top 25 RPI teams. So, as they showed in the close game in East Lansing, they are capable of putting a scare into good teams and even upsetting them on occasion.

The game will be broadcast on BTN and streamed on BTN2Go. Tip off is set for 12:30 eastern time and 11:30 am (always a strange time to play) here in cold, cold, cold, Hoffman Estates.

#9 Michigan State vs. #1 Maryland - 12:30 p.m. ET BTN/BTN2Go