LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Five reasons Michigan will beat Michigan State on Sunday at Breslin Center:

Done it before

The Wolverines swept the regular-season series last season and have split the last four games at Breslin Center. The mystique of winning a road game against the Spartans is not what it was when they won 11 in a row in East Lansing from 1998-2010. Both teams have been ranked in the last seven meetings, but not this time.

Unlikely sources

Michigan's five freshmen are starting to contribute more in expanded roles. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins, who were buried on the bench just a month ago, starting against Nebraska and combined for 22 points. Ricky Doyle is becoming a solid post player and walk-ons Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich are getting quality minutes in the first half.

Rising Dawkins

With Caris LeVert's season-ending injury, Aubrey Dawkins has moved into LeVert's spot and has started to look more comfortable in the offense. He's become one of the team's better 3-point shooters and is improving on defense with his increased playing time. With 20 points against Illinois and 13 against Nebraska, he's a critical offensive option.

Zoning out

With so many new pieces in the rotation, coach John Beilein has leaned more on zone defenses instead of man-to-man. It's proven effective in spurts against Wisconsin and Nebraska — and will challenge MSU to shoot from the outside instead of getting easier baskets inside.

Take it to the Max

Senior center Max Bielfeldt has become a post option for the Wolverines, with Mark Donnal battling an illness. Bielfeldt had 12 points and nine rebounds against Nebraska and although he hasn't played against MSU much in his career, will get the lion' share of minutes this time.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE