No. 7 Michigan and No. 9 Michigan State provided one of the better games we've seen this college basketball season on Feb. 24. They meet again Saturday night in one of the most anticipated games of college basketball's final regular-season weekend.
It's a meeting Tom Izzo said, when asked by a reporter this week, that he thinks is the biggest matchup in the rivals' history. Duke-UNC is rightfully the top game on the docket for Saturday, but this ain't bad as a nightcap.
Michigan-Michigan State game time, TV channel, live stream link
Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich.
Game time: 8 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Live stream link: WatchESPN
The winner of this game gets a share of the Big Ten title
Purdue beat Northwestern earlier in the day. All three teams entered Saturday with 15-4 records, but the Boilermakers' win assures them a share of the conference crown. Now the Spartans and Wolverines are playing for the right to split the title with Purdue.
Michigan State is the defending Big Ten regular season champ, while Michigan is looking for its first regular season title since 2014.
A single college basketball game can lack stakes earlier in the season. That certainly won't be the case here.
Michigan State won the rivals' first matchup this season
This game lived up to its top-10 billing. Michigan State passed its first big test without Nick Ward, as Cassius Winston poured in 27 points on just 13 field goal attempts even when the Wolverines' defense knew he had to be the main target.
Zavier Simpson and his array of hook shots were an admirable foe, but MSU was able to circumvent Michigan's normally excellent defense and pull away with the win.
Michigan State asserted itself as the top team in the Big Ten before a loss to Indiana a week later brought the Spartans down to earth a bit. But Purdue's loss to Minnesota on Tuesday put both teams from the state of Michigan right back into the race for the title.
We'll all be watching Cassius Winston again
Michigan entered the last game with the knowledge that stopping MSU meant stopping Winston. But even when the Wolverines surrounded the Spartans' point guard, he was able to do this:
Winston has a chance to wrap up Big Ten Player of the Year with another standout performance on a national stage. Simpson will be out to check him again, and their perimeter battle is the matchup to watch. Michigan's point guard is no slouch either. He gets the most out of this otherworldly hook shot to make up for a lack of 3-point shooting:
This is March
We're already in conference championship season. Pretty soon, you'll be able to watch college basketball for 12 hours a day and ignore everyone in your life. Saturday features 17 ranked teams in action, which is a pretty good start. If you've been watching college basketball for months, this will be an appetizer before March really get kicks into full gear. If you haven't watched much college basketball this season, Saturday will be your chance to get caught up. This is March, after all.