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Maryland basketball vs. Michigan State preview: Terps look to end regular season on a high note

Maryland will look to send Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill out on top on Senior Day.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State is in a down season. Tom Izzo’s squad that enters Xfinity Center Saturday is noticeably less successful than what fans are used to.

These Spartans are far removed from the ones who beat Maryland basketball twice last year, but they’re still competitive. Four losses in five games in January brought the team’s image down considerably. Since then, they’ve been solid, though certainly not great.

Following an impressive win over Wisconsin, Michigan State had a letdown with a road loss to Illinois. Unlike the Terps, who are a lock to make the NCAA tournament, the Spartans are still looking to improve their spot in the big dance and secure their slot.

Saturday’s game tips off at 2 p.m. on BTN. This’ll be the last time Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill play at Xfinity Center, and they’ll each be honored before the game starts.

Michigan State Spartans (18-12, 10-7 Big Ten)

2015-16 record: 29-6

Head coach: Tom Izzo. The Hall of Famer is in his 22nd season at the head of the Spartans basketball program. At 542-217, his .714 winning percentage speaks for itself.

KenPom ranking: 51 (Maryland is 38)

Players to watch

Miles Bridges, forward, freshman, 6’7/230, No. 22. The freshman sensation is projected to be a lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft, but he is settling for leading his team in points, rebounds, blocks, three-pointers, and minutes at the moment. Bridges is currently averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. What makes him even more dangerous is his ability to shoot 41 percent from beyond the arc.

Nick Ward, forward, freshman, 6’8/250, No. 44. Fresh off of a week where he won Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week honors, Ward averaged nearly 22 points and nine rebounds on 68 percent shooting from the field in his two games against Nebraska and Wisconsin. For the season, Ward is averaging 13 points and six rebounds in under 20 minutes per game.

Cassius Winston, guard, freshman, 6’0/185, No. 5. Despite his role coming off the bench, Winston is easily Michigan State’s best passer, which is uncanny for the Spartans’ third best freshman on the team. With the recent injury to Eron Harris, Winston is the Spartans’ third-leading scorer at seven points per game but makes his living with over five assists per game, which leads the team by nearly two helpers.


Shooting. Michigan State has an adjusted offensive efficiency of 110.9, which is good for No. 67 in the country according to KenPom. Moreover, the Spartans’ effective field-goal percentage is 55, the 31st-best mark in the nation.

Passing. A big reason as to why the Spartans are so successful on offense is because they understand that sharing is caring. They’re the second-best team in the country with a a ridiculously high assist rate of 66.3 percent, which most NBA teams do not even get close to.


Committing and forcing turnovers. Maryland knows all too well that playing three freshman extensive minutes will result in several turnovers per game. That is the case for Michigan State too. The Spartans’ 21 percent turnover rate is 315th in the country. To make matters worse, the Spartans opponents’ possessions only end in a turnover 16.2 percent of the time, and Michigan State only forces steals 6.6 percent of the time. Those ranks are Nos. 312 and 330 in the NCAA, respectively.

Rebounding. Averaging just 36 rebounds per game, the same as Maryland, Michigan State is No. 147 in the country, which does not seem too terrible as an average standing in the NCAA. However, the Spartans’ tallest rotation player is Ward at 6’8. Damonte Dodd is already a strong offensive rebounder and at 6’11 he could rack up a nice stat line in his last game at Xfinity Center.


KenPom’s prediction: Maryland 74, Michigan State 69. Terps have a 67 percent chance of winning.

Neil’s prediction: Michigan State 80, Maryland 71.