Northwestern Wildcats vs. Michigan St Spartans Pick & Prediction JANUARY 7th 2024

Michigan State has surrendered no more than 75 points in a game during the five-game winning streak it brings to Northwestern on Sunday night.

“I said at the beginning of the year, I thought it was one of my best defensive teams ever,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “And that’s starting to at least come a little bit now. That’s been a big difference.”

There’s more good news for Michigan State (9-5, 1-2 Big Ten): The Spartans also are adding some oomph to the offense to complement the defense.

After starting the conference season with losses to Wisconsin and at Nebraska, the Spartans earned their first league victory of the season Thursday, rolling past Penn State 92-61 behind 24 points from Malik Hall and 22 from Tyson Walker.

Michigan State shot 56.3 percent from the floor and was 10 for 21 from beyond the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, the Spartans limited Penn State to 32.3 percent shooting, including a 3-for-29 showing from deep.

“We just want to set the tone,” Hall said. “I think we’ve been doing a great job of that, and I want us to continue it, for sure.”

Northwestern (10-3, 1-1) can attest to the importance of making an early impact. The Wildcats allowed No. 9 Illinois to swish seven of its first nine shots Tuesday on the way to a 17-point halftime lead that swelled to a 96-66 Illinois victory.

Four Fighting Illini players scored in double figures as the team shot 62.5 percent.

“This,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said, “was a butt-kicking in every sense of the word. … The story of the game was our inability to defend them. We can’t take this game and flush it, forget about it. We have to understand why we couldn’t guard them and fix the problems.”

Boo Buie (20 points) and Ty Berry (14) paced Northwestern.

The Wildcats are aiming for their first three-game winning streak against Michigan State since 1961-62. The Spartans boast a 94-41 edge in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media

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