No. 11 Michigan State basketball vs. No. 9 Wisconsin: Scouting report, prediction

It will be another first in a year filled with them.
For the first time in 81 years, the NCAA tournament was canceled.
For the first time in 31 years, the Breslin Center did not allow fans to play.
And Friday: the first Christmas Day game in the 122-year history of Michigan State basketball. And for the first time this season, the Spartans can play in front of their families.
Michigan State Spartans forward Aaron Henry heads up against Wisconsin Badgers guards D'Mitrik Trice (left) and Brad Davison (right) in the first half at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Friday, January 17, 2020.
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[Joey Hauser (knee) trains, expected to play against Wisconsin]
"I hope there are 500,000 living alums out there who all open their presents on Christmas morning and turn on the subway and watch the Spartans," said coach Tom Izzo on Wednesday.
Get an extra gift when they tune in the Fox show at 12:30 PM when MSU welcomes # 11 (6-1, 0-1 Big Ten) Wisconsin # 9 (7-1, 1-1) . to East Lansing. Here's what to look for in the lone get-together this season between the two Big Ten contenders and the reigning co-champions.
[MSU's Biggest Concern: How to Make Rocket Watts Take Off]
Ho ho hoop
It almost seems fitting to bring the green, white and red uniforms of these two teams together for Christmas.
The Spartans have never taken their place on December 25th. MSU played on Christmas Eve in 1934, 1941, and 1945. Izzo took his team and won the Pearl Harbor Classic in 1998, but those games were played December 21-23 in Laie, Hawaii.
Izzo said when he and his staff realized that his players would need to stay on campus for Christmas, he urged them to play Christmas Day and consulted with Michigan coach Juwan Howard about how the NBA works.
"It's just a blessing," said junior swingman Gabe Brown on Wednesday. “Many teams are not allowed to play at Christmas. For the state of Michigan, for the Spartans who play out there and compete against a great team, this is something you could never ask for. "
When the Big Ten announced their schedule, the conference leaders felt the college game on Christmas Day might hit the eyeballs. The NBA then planned to wait until January. However, the pros started their season this week and will have a number of games on Friday as well.
"I've never played at Christmas," said junior guard Aaron Henry. “I'm used to being at home with my family. … It's exciting because no one has played that Christmas and a lot of NBA games are usually played at Christmas. And since I'm back I'm glad the game is early enough to see some of those NBA games. "
You'll also be able to scout in advance.
MSU-Wisconsin is one of four Big Ten games on Friday. This is followed by Maryland in Purdue (2:30 p.m.), Michigan in Nebraska (6:00 p.m.) and Iowa, Minnesota (8:00 p.m.).
Shake it off
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo (below) reacts in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois on Sunday, December 20, 2020. Northwestern won 79-65.
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The Spartans put down a lackluster 79-65 loss in Northwestern on Sunday to open the Big Ten game. Brown said it was a long and disappointing journey home from Evanston, Illinois, but said Captains Henry, Joshua Langford and Foster Loyer saw the film almost immediately, and the others worked with them to break down the MSU's mistakes, when they left the Welsh-Ryan Arena.
[MSU was 'terrible' in almost every way leading to a surprise at the Big Ten opening]
"Everyone did their part on the way home," said Brown. “Then we had a meeting and talked the next morning. Now we are trying to recover from this loss. "
Describing the game as one of its worst in 26 seasons, Izzo mandated himself and the players to improve immediately. He felt just as bad watching the game again.
"The energy we had after a decent week of training - but it was the final and stuff like that - I thought was not enough for what we expect here and that we normally come here," he said. “So I'd say I felt just as bad about it, and I'm not used to it. ... I don't care who you play, where you play them. Better bring it with you. "
Wisconsin Update
Michigan state Julius Marble, right, watches over Wisconsin's Nate Reuvers during the first half at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Friday, January 17, 2020.
The Badgers opened the Big Ten game with a 67:53 home win over Nebraska on Tuesday night - their ninth consecutive conference win and the 15th in a row at the Kohl Center. The Cornhuskers rose as much as 10 before Wisconsin overtook them 14-0 in the second half. Micah Potter scored 10 points with 11 rebounds, one of four badgers in the double digits. Brad Davidson led them with 15 points and seven assists. Potter, a 6-foot-10 senior, leads Wisconsin with 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Davison, a 6-4 year old and senior backcourt colleague D’Mitrik Trice, scores 22.3 points together, while coach Greg Gard goes eight points deep in his rotation. The size of the Badgers with Potter and Seniors Nate Reuvers (6-11, 11 points per game) and Aleem Ford (6-8, 9.1) could be a tough matchup for MSU, which struggled to make a consistent forecourt mate for Wisconsin find a native of Joey Hauser.
The Badgers allow a Big Ten low of 57.5 points per game, which ranks 14th in Division I this season.
"They want to be the best defensive team in the country," said Gard, "and it's an everyday challenge."
Last season, the Spartans defeated the Badgers 67:55 in Breslin on January 17 and lost 64:63 in Madison on February 1 to achieve a winning streak of eight games in the series. That win earned Wisconsin nine wins in their last ten games to share the regular season Big Ten title with MSU and Maryland. Their loss to the Badgers resulted in the Spartans taking four losses in five games before recovering to claim their last five and a share of the crown.
forecast
Wisconsin 66, MSU 62: The Badgers achieve their first East Lansing win since 2004 by feeding the post frequently. Hauser battles his way through one knee to keep the Spartans in, but Wisconsin - the conference's best free-throw shooting team - seals it late on the line.
Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more about the Michigan State Spartans and subscribe to our Spartans newsletter.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Michigan State Basketball vs. Wisconsin: Scouting Report, Prediction

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