Two weeks ago, Michigan's overtime loss to rival Michigan State started the four-game skid that has put a damper on UM's season.
MSU outscored the Wolverines, 10-0, in overtime, as veterans Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello and Branden Dawson accounted for all of the points. It was a painful indoctrination to the rivalry for Michigan's young players.
Of the nine players UM used — four were freshmen and two were walk-ons — only three had played in the rivalry, so the pace and environment at Breslin Center were new.
"Maybe more so than the intensity of the rivalry is the speed at which Michigan State plays the game, because they came at our young guys up the floor and it was tough for us," assistant coach Jeff Meyer said Monday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "We, in our best efforts to prepare, talked to them about the speed with which Michigan State plays in the full court — makes, misses, on the glass, their quickness to the ball, their aggression to the ball — but that's hard to put on video or even talk about or emulate in practice.
"We're hopeful that the experience in our first game will not only give our younger players a real sense of the intensity, but also the speed with which Michigan State plays the game."
The Wolverines (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten) will be without Caris LeVert, but it's unclear whether Derrick Walton, who has been recovering from a foot injury, will be available.
MSU coach Tom Izzo said he would be preparing the Spartans (17-8, 8-4) as if Walton — who has missed the last five games — will be available.
If Walton doesn't play, freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who had 18 points in the first meeting, will make his sixth straight start.
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.