- The Michigan State Spartans (12-9, 6-9 Big Ten) host the Ohio State Buckeyes (18-5, 12-5 Big Ten) Thursday, Feb. 25
- MSU is making a late push for the NCAAs, while OSU is coming off a loss to Michigan
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Michigan State Spartans, who have qualified for 23 straight NCAA Tournaments, host the Ohio State Buckeyes Thursday, Feb. 25 in East Lansing. Tip is set for 9pm ET at the Breslin Center.
Chris Hotlmann’s Ohio State club came up just short in its showdown with the Maize and Blue Sunday, going down 92-87 in Columbus. Meanwhile, look out for Sparty all of a sudden! Tom Izzo’s club, once seemingly a sure thing to miss the Big Dance for the first time since 1997, is back in the NCAA Tournament conversation after an 81-72 victory against No. 5 Illinois Tuesday.
Now, MSU looks to ride the momentum of that victory as home underdogs against OSU.
Ohio State vs Michigan State Odds
|Ohio State||-4.5 (-106)||-196||Ov 148.5 (-106)|
|Michigan State||+4.5 (-116)||+164||Un 148.5 (-116)|
Odds taken Feb. 24 at FanDuel
It will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes respond Thursday following their heavyweight battle with the Wolverines. Duane Washington Jr. hit a pair of 3’s in the final 18 seconds against Michigan to get the Bucks within three. But, ultimately, it wasn’t enough and OSU had its winning streak snapped at seven games.
Washington Jr. had a career-high 30, while fellow offensive standout EJ Liddell had 23 to go along with 10 rebounds as Holtmann’s club shot 53-percent from the field in a valiant yet non-victorious effort. Scoring wasn’t the problem. Defending 7-foot-1 freshman Hunter Dickinson was. He finished with 22 and nine and his length was a distinct advantage.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the Spartans don’t have anyone outside the 6-foot-9 Joey Hauser that possesses Dickinson’s reach in their regular rotation.
With Washington Jr. and Liddell still in top form, I expect Ohio State to buck up and rebound from a tough loss.
????Washington nets career-best 30 points, Liddell pitches in third-career double-double (23p/10r) in tough Top 5 loss to TTUN
➕https://t.co/c4bGnRCyut #GoBuckeyes https://t.co/i7SdDFFw1B
— Ohio State Buckeyes ???? (@OhioStAthletics) February 21, 2021
A Tradition Unlike Any Other
When you take a program to eight Final Fours, including a pair of title game appearances and a national championship over a 21-season stretch, it’s easy to take for granted what Izzo has done in East Lansing.
But this year’s club showed significant chinks in the Spartan armor and appeared to be headed for Michigan State’s first March outside the NCAA Tournament in 24 years. Then, Tuesday happened.
Senior guard Joshua Langford played like the top-20 recruit he was upon entering the Spartan program against the Fighting Illini, finishing with 15 points and a career-high16 rebounds in the nine-point win and outdueling the Illinois tandem of Ayo Dosunmu (17 and nine) and Koki Cockburn (13 and six).
Connected and attitude are MSU’s motivational words right now, Joshua Langford says. Says his rebounding was him giving his best effort for his team.
— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) February 24, 2021
Another factor in MSU’s return to familiar late-winter form — while winning four of its last six — has been the distribution of minutes to certain players.assigned to players.
Rather than spread the wealth, Izzo has ramped up the playing time for players like Langford, Rocket Watts, Gabe Brown and Aaron Henry — and been rewarded. All four players had standout games against a top-5 team in a statement home game. With a similar performance in another statement game Thursday, Michigan State will likely be keeping its March Madness streak alive.
Shortened Bench an Issue?
While the Spartans have thrived shortening their bench, we’ll see if the same holds true for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has been elite this year for many reasons — one of which has been their depth..
Musa Jallow, a junior wing, played through pain against Penn State in a 92-82 win, finishing with nine points in 23 minutes. But the fourth-year player, who’s had ankle issues over the course of his career, suffered another ankle injury against the Nittany Lions and wasn’t able to go against Michigan. Meanwhile, fellow role player Seth Towns saw action against the Wolverines, but is a question mark heading into Thursday. Meantime, another important reserve is definitely out.
Chris Holtmann just said that Kyle Young sustained a concussion during Ohio State’s loss to Michigan and he is OUT tomorrow vs MSU.
Look for Zed Key and (possibly) Musa Jallow to fill in with some big minutes in his absence.
— Connor Lemons (@lemons_connor) February 24, 2021
Regardless of what happens on the injury front – which, while an obstacle, hasn’t prevented this team from achieving an 18-5 record and No. 4 ranking – Ohio State still has plenty of talent, led by Washington and LIddell.
Will it be enough to overcome a confident Michigan State squad at home? While OSU may win, that spread feels a little too big in this spot.
The pick: Michigan State +4.5 (-116)