East Lansing — Michigan State has plenty on the line this week.
Solidifying a spot in the NCAA Tournament and keeping pace in the Big Ten are primary goals for the Spartans, but the trip to the Crisler Center on Tuesday certainly spices things up a bit.
Michigan's NCAA Tournament hopes have been all but dashed, but Michigan State isn't expecting anything less than the Wolverines' best.
"It's an important game right now for us for a million reasons," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "The Big Ten race, the NCAA Tournament, the rivalry game, I mean there's so many different reasons. But you know still the biggest reason is it's the rivalry game, it's the game in your state. Everybody talks about it, everybody knows about it. So I think the energy goes up, I think it'll be interesting with a 9 o'clock start, late start. But other than that I think it's all good."
It was all good two weeks ago for Michigan State when it beat Michigan, 76-66 in overtime, at the Breslin Center. Now the Spartans, coming off a big win Saturday over Ohio State, are hoping to end a four-game skid in Ann Arbor.
In fact, no player on Michigan State's roster has won a game at Michigan, making a victory especially big for seniors Branden Dawson and Travis Trice.
"It's definitely important," Dawson said, "being that they beat us twice last year and I wasn't able to play. Just to get a win down there would be definitely important. (Two years ago) we came up short. I think we lost by like one point (58-57) off a turnover. We came close and just to get a win down there would be good for this program and good for myself and Travis."
Michigan State at Michigan
Tipoff: 9 p.m. Tuesday, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
Records: Michigan State 17-8, 8-4 Big Ten; Michigan 13-12, 6-7
Outlook: Michigan State hasn't won at Crisler Center since 2010 and is looking for the season sweep. The Spartans look to be comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, but a loss could drop them back to the bubble.