The Maryland men's basketball team will face Michigan State in a Big Ten semifinal game on Saturday afternoon, the second year in a row the teams have played in such a game.
The No. 2-seeded Spartans beat No. 7 Ohio State in a quarterfinal on Friday. Maryland beat Nebraska to join them in Saturday's semi, which tips at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS, live from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
It's the second meeting of the season between the Terps and Spartans. Michigan State beat Maryland in East Lansing on Jan. 23 by a 74-65 score, behind a strong team rebounding effort and 25 points from guard Bryn Forbes. The Spartans are on a two-game win streak against the Terps, having also beaten them in last year's conference tournament game.
Michigan State Spartans (27-5)
Tom Izzo is 523-204 in 21 seasons in East Lansing. This year will mark an incredible 19th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the surefire hall of fame head coach.
Players to know
Denzel Valentine, senior, guard/forward, 6'5, No. 45. The best player in the Big Ten is a terror for Maryland in so, so many ways. In the regular season, Valentine averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per game – mind-boggling numbers even if hadn't been gimpy for part of the season and playing a manageable 33 minutes per contest. Valentine is nuts.
Bryn Forbes, senior, guard, 6'3, No. 5. Forbes was nearly the best three-point shooter in America this year, shooting a cool 50.5 percent from beyond the arc. That makes him another nightmare. He averaged 15 points.
Matt Costello, senior, forward, 6'9, No. 10. Costello had 12 rebounds against Maryland in the teams' January meeting, including six on the offensive end. He's one of the best offensive and defensive rebounders in the country, and the chances are good he infuriates Maryland by grabbing a lot of boards and then smiling about it.
Deyonta Davis, freshman, forward, 6'10, No. 23. Davis is the stud freshman in an otherwise mostly veteran lineup. He chipped in a 7-point, 6-rebound this season and brings a lot of athleticism and length to the Spartans' frontcourt. He adds a unique dimension there, as Costello is good but won't break any games open with his athletic ability.
Eron Harris, junior, guard, 6'3, No. 14. An athletic defensive ace, Harris had a nice year for the Spartans after transferring from West Virginia. He averaged 9 points, two rebounds and two assists.
Having the best offense in the country. The Spartans closed the season ranked No. 1 in opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency. Meaning: They had the best offense in the country controlling for their strength of schedule.
They shot a national-best 43.9 percent on three-pointers, which started with Forbes but also got help from Valentine (45 percent), Harris (42 percent) and Matt McQuaid (41 percent). Actually, Harris and McQuaid shot better than 40 percent and made the Spartans' team percentage worse.
Defending the shot. Michigan State is just brutal to shoot against, ceding a 43 percent effective shooting percentage to opponents that placed the Spartans second in the country in the regular season. The defensive efficiency as a whole rated lower, because the Spartans force almost no turnovers and gave up a lot of points (relatively) at the line.
No takeaways. Michigan State isn't a ball-pressure defense, so this is a selected weakness, but a weakness nonetheless. The Spartans entered the weekend 345th out of 351 teams in turnover percentage (forced), so the Terrapins should at least be able to get off shots that won't go into the basket.
Maryland looked awesome on Friday, but so did Michigan State. The Spartans should have a mild home-court advantage and have looked better than the Terps lately, so it's not right to pick against them.
Michigan State, 75-72. But it's a lot easier to feel good about Maryland than it was a few days ago.