Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) shoots between Michigan State's Kenny Kaminski, left, and Denzel Valentine during the second of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 14 points in Wisconsin's 60-58 upset over Michigan State. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Preview: Wisconsin hosts #4 Michigan State desperate for upset

Wisconsin and Michigan State will tip off at 12:30 P.M. on CBS. The Badgers will look to end their current three-game losing streak, and the Spartans will be looking to bounce back after their second loss to Iowa this season. Michigan State’s star Denzel Valentine will be playing his third game back after missing four from an injury. He played 37 minutes against Iowa, so it seems like he’s completely healthy.

Projected Starters

Projected Wisconsin Starters

G: Bronson Koenig (13.6 PPG, 2.4 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (8.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (15.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.8 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (8.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (11.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG)

Projected Michigan State Starters

G: Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. (4.1 PPG, 4.5 APG)
G: Bryn Forbes (13.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
G: Denzel Valentine (17.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 6.7 APG)
F: Gavin Schilling (5.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
F: Matt Costello (9.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG)


Valentine is a major Wooden Award contender averaging 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. He leads the Spartans in all of those categories. Shooting guard Bryn Forbes is another talented scorer for the Spartans averaging 13.7 points a game. Both guards are excellent from the three-point line. Containing Forbes and Valentine will definitely be where the defensive gameplay starts. “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. runs the offense for MSU and gets Valentine and Forbes their easy 3-point looks. The Spartans move the ball really well on offense averaging 21 assists per game.

MSU has a steady rotation of bigs with Gavin Schilling, Matt Costello, and Deyonta Davis. Davis is a freshman averaging 8.2 points per game along with 5.2 rebounds. Eron Harris is also a key contributor off the bench being third on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game.

The Badgers will look to turn things around after a tough night at Northwestern, with emotions starting to heat up. Another rough shooting night plagued the Badgers who have yet to figure things out on the offensive end. They’ll have to do a much better job guarding the opposing perimeter impact players, allowing Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh to score 28 points on 10-19 shooting. If it is that easy for Valentine and Forbes, it will be a long day for the Badgers.

The Badgers continue to take a lot of three-point shots, and miss a lot of them, going 7-21 against Northwestern. The Badgers will have to be efficient to keep up with Michigan State from the three-point line like Iowa did on Thursday, and will definitely have to shoot better than their season mark of 33.5%.

End of an Era

One of the best parts of this rivalry was watching Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo go at it on the sidelines. Ryan had a winning record against Izzo going 11-10, including 9-2 at home.

Bottom Line

The Badgers will have to outplay the Spartans on the perimeter, which is a tall task, but they can’t forget about the paint. Containing Valentine and Forbes is the key for the Badgers, along with needing a bigger punch on offense.

Photo: Associated Press

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