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5 Dime - Michigan State
Michigan State is far better than Iowa, but don't expect the Spartans to sleepwalk their way to victory tonight considering Sunday's poor performance at home against Wisconsin, a game in which they found themselves down by a dozen with 12 minutes to play before going on a 32-9 run that secured a 61-50 victory. With the conference season winding down, there is no time for complacency with Michigan State holding just a one-game lead over Purdue and a 1 1/2-game advantage over Illinois in the conference standings.
Iowa will undoubtedly have the Spartans' attention following its 70-60 overtime win against Michigan. But that game was played in Iowa City where the Hawkeyes are 12-3 straight-up. They carry a nine-game road losing streak into Lansing tonight, including an 0-7 mark in Big Ten play. In addition, they've lost 13 in a row at the Breslin Center by an average of 14.8 points a game.
Both teams have been hampered by injuries of late, but Iowa's have left a thin team - one that is coming off an overtime game and playing on the road - in a vulnerable position. Starting point guard Jeff Peterson, who had 14 points in the Hawkeyes' 71-56 home loss in the season's first meeting January 29, has missed two straight games with a hamstring injury and is considered doubtful for tonight's rematch. Making matters worse, fellow guard Jermain Davis is questionable because of a knee injury and might miss his second straight contest, while forward Cyrus Tate, who has missed nine of the past 11 games, is expected to be available for only limited action after making a surprising return against Michigan over the weekend with four minutes of play off the bench. All of these injuries resulted in four Iowa starters playing over 45 minutes in Sunday's overtime win.
Michigan State has been bitten by the injury bug as well with star forward Raymar Morgan slowed recently by a bout of mono, but he's played 14 and 17 minutes the past two games. However, his presence wasn't needed much in the season's first meeting when he played just eight minutes and scored only two points. In that contest, the Spartans' starting forwards outrebounded their Iowa counterparts 21-5. In fact, in the first half of the game Michigan State - which leads the conference in rebounding - dominated on the boards, grabbing 23 rebounds versus only 9 for the host Hawkeyes.
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