TwooftheverybestinthecountryaresettothrowdownintheBigTenonSaturdayafternoon,postseasonimplicationsaplenty。

MichiganStateis#4inthecountry,23–3overalland11–2intheBigTen。

Purdueis#3butsettodropafterlosingforthefirsttimein20gamesagainstOhioStateearlierthisweek。

TheBoilermakersarealso23–3and12–1intheBigTen。

Forweeksnow,Villanova,VirginiaandPurduehavebeenconsensusprojectionsfora#1seedintheNCAATournament。

MichiganState,despitehavelostonlythreegamesallseason—includingthesecondgameofitsseasonagainstDuke—hasntbeenmuchpartofthediscussion。

Iveevenseensomebracketologistsforecastitasa#3andIvestruggledtounderstandwhy。

NotonlyisSpartyranked#4inthecountryandsettomoveupto#2or#3withawinathomethisevening,butitslosseshavebeenok:Dukeonaneutralfloor,atOhioStateandversusMichigan。

Thelatterlossdidhurtitchances,though。

ThebiggestargumentMichiganStateisgoingupagainstisitsplaceinitsownconference。

OhioStatehasbeentremendousthisseason。

IthasbeatenPurdue?

and?

MichiganStateandwillhaveastrangleholdontheregularseasontitleiftheSpartanswinontheirhomefloorthisevening。

DespitetheseasonOSUhashad,itsnowhereneartheconversationfora#1seedandoffofmostpeoplesFinalFourradars。

Thatsaqualmforanotherday,though。

MichiganStatesonlychanceatwinningtheregularseasontitleandgettingbackintothediscussionfora#1seed,iswinningthisgame。

IftheSpartanswin,theymoveintoatiewithPurdueandholdthetiebreaker。

TheywouldstillneedsomemajorhelpbecausetherewouldbetwogamestomakeuponOhioStateduetothehead-to-headtiebreaker。

DoesanyofthisreallymatterwhenitcomestopickingthebestteamsinMarch?

Asidefromseeding,notreally。

MichiganStatehasbeenmyfavorite,outsideofVillanova,allseasonandthatwontchangeifitwinsorlosesaregularseasongame,orevenaconferencetitle。

Thatsaid,thiswillbeanexcellentgameworthyofyourtimeandactiontoo。

FreePick

IdothinkMichiganStatewinsthisgamebutthethree-pointspreadisappropriate。

Purdueisterrificinitsownrightandwontgetblownout。

Imfairlysureofthat。

Instead,Imlookingatthetotal。

MichiganStatehasthebestdefenseinthecountry。

TheperimeterdefenseisalwaysterrificandthisseasontheSpartanshavesomeofthebestrimprotectionIhaveseenoutofanyteamincollegebasketballinalongtime。

Theydontgiveupstrength,norsize,atanypositionandworkseamlesslyasaunit,asmuchasTomIzzostillsaystheyhavetoworkon(itswhatmakesIzzosuchagoodcoach)。

ButtheSpartanshavealsoshownanabilitytowinshootouts。

SeetheirlastgameatIowa,a96–93win。

MSUhasbeatenIndianatwice,oncewithwith85pointsandanothertimewith63。

ThegamewithDukeearlyonwasplayedupinthe80s。

Idontseethathappeninginthisone,though。

MostofMSUsBigTenwinshavebeeninthe60sand70sandIdontanticipateeitherteamwillbeespeciallyexcitedtorunandattacktheothersdefenseinthisgame。

Bothteamshavethesizetomatchupwiththeotherandwhiletheycanshootthethree,itisntaprimarytoolineitherteamsoffense。

Iexpectthisgametobealittleslowandevenalittleoffensivelybarrenforstretches,playeddowninthe60sandmaybe70sandtofinishunderarelativelyhightotal。

FreePick:Under148