Matt Charboneau, James Hawkins, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski predict the outcome of the Michigan at Michigan State game on Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN, WJR 760, WWJ 950).
Matt Charboneau: There are plenty of questions heading into this game. Will Charles Matthews be back for the Wolverines? Will the Spartans get Nick Ward or Kyle Ahrens back? Will Michigan State switch screens like it did in the first meeting and how does Michigan counter? All of it matters as the Big Ten championship is on the line, but the key matchup still comes down to Cassius Winston vs. Zavier Simpson. The better player usually ends up on the winning team and that likely won’t change this time. Give a slight edge to the likely Big Ten Player of the Year. Michigan State, 71-65
James Hawkins: It’s hard to believe John Beilein and Co. won’t be better prepared after Michigan State’s Cassius Winston picked apart Michigan’s ball-screen defense and the Spartans caught the Wolverines off-guard with their defensive switches. And while the possibility of not having Charles Matthews might complicate matters for Michigan, it doesn’t deny the fact the Wolverines will be driven to prove they’re better than they showed in the first meeting. Michigan, 66-64
John Niyo: Injuries will play a factor, obviously. But even if Charles Matthews sits, the Wolverines’ defense should be better prepared to handle Michigan State’s ball-screen actions. And if Michigan’s effort at Maryland is any indication of how they’ll handle a rowdy road environment, this should be the kind of game that comes down to the final possession. Michigan, 61-59
Bob Wojnowski: Michigan will be better prepared for Cassius Winston and Michigan State’s defense, but in the Breslin Center on a Saturday night with a title at stake, the Spartans will be tough to beat. Freshman Ignas Brazdeikis will have to be sharp and under control in his first game in East Lansing. For the Spartans, Kenny Goins has become a real shooting threat, which is huge because Winston can’t keep doing so much. Or can he? Michigan State, 70-69