IOWA CITY, Iowa — Fans of the Michigan State Spartans are hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself on Tuesday night in Iowa City, IA.
During the 2015-16 season, the Iowa Hawkeyes had the Spartans’ number in both of their meetings. Michigan State was the top-ranked team in their first meeting that season, and Iowa knocked off the Spartans in Iowa City to open up Big Ten play, 83-70.
Then, just three games later, the Spartans were ranked fourth in the country and were looking for some redemption on their home floor. However, the Hawkeyes knocked off the Spartans yet again, 76-59. Both wins were during a nine game winning streak for Iowa.
On Tuesday night in Iowa City, the Spartans are again ranked fourth in the country, but they are hoping for a much different result than the last time they faced Iowa as a top-five team. It also marks the only regular season meeting between the two schools for the second year in a row.
Here’s what you need to know in advance of Tuesday night’s tilt between Michigan State, who is looking to pick up their seventh win in a row, and Iowa, who will be looking to upset the Spartans once again.
Last Time Out
In the Spartans’ last outing, they were on the road to take on the Indiana Hoosiers in the first of two straight road games. Michigan State was looking to extend their winning streak to six games, and complete the season sweep of Indiana in the process. The Spartans knocked off the Hoosiers to kick off their winning streak, 85-57, but needed some late-game heroics this time around. The Spartans edged the Hoosiers inside Assembly Hall, 63-60.
The win marked the sixth victory in a row, giving them 22 wins on the season. They finished with 20 wins all of last season.
Matt McQuaid hit the decisive three pointer with just over a minute to play to give the Spartans the win. He finished the game with 12 points off the bench to lead all Michigan State players. He did all of his damage from three point range, going 4-of-5 on the night. Both Jaren Jackson Jr. and Joshua Langford finished with 10 points, while Jackson Jr. added seven blocks.
In their last outing, the Hawkeyes weren’t as successful as the Spartans. After a 14-point win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Iowa was looking to continue their momentum against the Penn State Nittany Lions on the road. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes’ winning streak ended at just a single game, as they fell in convincing fashion, 82-58.
The loss was Iowa’s seventh over their last 10 games, and it dropped them to 3-9 in Big Ten play.
Forwards Tyler Cook and Luka Garza led the way for the Hawkeyes. Cook scored a team-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds, while Garza contributed 13 points and six rebounds of his own in the loss. Cordell Pemsl came off the bench to post nine points.
During the 2016-17 season, the Hawkeyes and Spartans met just once, and it was inside the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI. Behind a balanced offensive attack that saw four freshmen reach double figures for the Spartans, they bounced back from a rough outing in their previous contest with a 77-66 win over Iowa.
Cook, who was a freshman at the time for the Hawkeyes, scored 13 points in the loss for the visitors. Guard Peter Jok matched Cook with 13 points to pace the attack for Iowa. Pemsl came off the bench and recorded 10 points and seven rebounds of his own. The Hawkeyes held a slim one-point lead at the break, but weren’t able to extend that in the second frame.
Miles Bridges led four Michigan State freshmen in double figures, finishing the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks. Nick Ward had 14 points and five rebounds, Cassius Winston had 12 points and five assists, and Joshua Langford rounded out the group with 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Players to Watch
– 12.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 7.0 apg; 52.9% FG, 53.1% 3PT, 90.0% FT in 25 games.
– Winston has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.65, and he ranks ninth in the NCAA with 7.0 assists per game.
– Over his last four games, Winston has 28 assists to just nine turnovers, including a 10 assist performance on January 31st against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
– 17.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 bpg; 47.9% FG, 90.1% FT in 24 games.
– Bridges has eight games with 20+ points this season, including a pair of 30+ performances.
– He was held to just seven points against Indiana in the Spartans’ last outing, which marks only the second time this year he was held to single digits. He had scored in double figures 19 straight times before the game against the Hoosiers.
– 15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 apg; 58.0% FG, 67.4% FT in 25 games.
– Cook is the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore, and is one of four Hawkeyes to average in double figures this season.
– Over his last four games, Cook is averaging 19.25 points and 7.75 rebounds per game, recording two double-doubles over that span.
– 11.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.1 bpg; 54.9% FG, 65.8% FT in 25 games.
– Garza is third on the team in scoring despite averaging just 20.0 minutes per outing.
– On January 23rd, 2018, Garza went for 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against the Wisconsin Badgers for his fourth double-double of the season.
Tuesday night marks the beginning of a grueling stretch for the Hawkeyes, as they face three straight ranked opponents. Following their game with the Spartans, the Hawkeyes will head on the road to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. For a team that has struggled all season long, things could get a bit worse over the next two weeks.
As for the Spartans, they will be looking to come out of the gates strong on Tuesday night. More often than not in 2017-18, Michigan State has limped out of the gates and have found themselves in tight contests at halftime. While they’ve come away with wins on almost every occasion, flirting with danger time in and time out will burn you at some point.
Michigan State fans are hoping that all things go as planned against the Hawkeyes and they are able to push their winning streak to seven games. Against a struggling Iowa team, one that allows more than 77 points per game on defense, there shouldn’t be much to worry about.
In typical Michigan State fashion, look for the first half to be closer than expected. In the second half, the Spartans will pull away for the double-digit win to keep pace atop the Big Ten standings with the Purdue Boilermakers and Ohio State.
Michigan State – 85
Iowa – 71
– T. Bennett