East Lansing — Michigan State has never lost a Big Ten opener at home under coach Tom Izzo, compiling a 7-0 mark.
It will be no simple task improving that record tonight when the Spartans begin conference play against No. 12 Maryland at the Breslin Center. It will be the first Big Ten game ever for the Terrapins, who have been off to in impressive start.
A win at Oklahoma State and a neutral-court victory over Iowa State have been highlights for Maryland, which suffered its only loss to No. 3 Virginia.
The Terrapins (12-1) will take on a Michigan State team that is getting healthier but isn't exactly where it needs to be just yet.
Senior Branden Dawson, who broke his wrist Dec. 17 against Eastern Michigan will return to the lineup while freshman Javon Bess has aggravated a foot injury and could be limited tonight.
"I think they will both play," Izzo said before practice on Monday. "(Dawson) will probably play more but I don't know how effective, so that will be as we go. He's got the new (cast) on his hand so that's a little bit reduced. That will be better.
"Javon I will know more (after practice) on how he is. That worries me as much as anything as I still say he is a guy who we need in there with his size, especially with the big guards they have."
Maryland has had to overcome its own injury issues as senior Dez Wells returned in the Terrapins last game against Oakland after missing seven games with a fractured wrist. He had been averaging 16.2 points over the first five games of the season.
"They're impressive," Izzo said. "It's hard to get a gauge bout they played Virginia at home and that is a good team. But to win at Oklahoma State and to beat Iowa State on a neutral court, they are a good team. They shoot the ball pretty well and have a lot of depth."
But Izzo's focus will continue to be on his Spartans, who he thinks still has the makeup to put together a good run now that Big Ten play is here.
"I like where we are headed. I really do," he said. "I think this Christmas has been good for us. We cleaned up some things and that's been good. I just don't know how they're going to play in a game situation. I don't know how B.J. is going to be, but Javon, it's going to be a little time yet."
Maryland at Michigan State
Tip-off: 5 p.m. today, Breslin Center, East Lansing
TV/radio: ESPN2/WJR 760
Records: No. 12 Maryland 12-1; Michigan State 9-4
Outlook: This is Maryland's first Big Ten game.