Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/5/13
EAST LANSING — Remember just one month ago when the Golden Gophers were arguably the best team in the nation? Well, the Michigan State Spartans do. The then-No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-5, 5-4) opened the Big Ten season with a 76-63 victory over the then-No. 18 Michigan State Spartans (18-4, 7-2) on the last day of 2012. Fast forward a little more than a month later, and the Gophers and Spartans are two completely different teams. Since the Big Ten opening day loss, the No. 12 Spartans have won seven of their last eight — with their only lose coming on the road at Indiana. Michigan State struggled to get any frontcourt offensive efficiency from Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix in that loss (combined 7-of-21 for 14 points), now, they’ve figured out how to make the big man combination work in their favor. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne will need to dominate the glass against Minnesota on Wednesday night. (AP Photo) The Spartans scored only two points in the final seven minutes, now, junior guard Keith Appling has emerged as the undisputed closer of the team. Tom Izzo’s ball club has improved greatly since the loss at Williams Arena, however, the same can’t be said for Tubby Smith’s Golden Gophers. Minnesota started the new year as hot as they left old one. The Golden Gophers won their first two games of 2013 against Northwestern and Illinois by a combined total of  35 points. The immediate future looked very bright for Minnesota, until they rolled into Assembly Hall. Minnesota suffered their first Big Ten loss at Indiana which jump started a troublesome January, as they went on to lose their next three games. Maybe Minnesota’s fall off was due to the level of competition they faced during that period (Indiana, Michigan, (at) Northwestern, and Wisconsin), but for a team that was once in the top-10 that can’t be a noteworthy excuse. On a brighter note, Minnesota has gotten back to their winning ways as they’ve defeated Nebraska and Iowa in their past two games, and they’re still rebounding at a high level. This week Izzo said that this team is one of the “worst” rebounding teams that he has ever had, but if the Spartans want to be victorious over the ailing Gophers they MUST rebound on both ends of the floor. Minnesota ranks 21st in the nation in rebounds per game, and their big man Trevor Mbakwe leads the way with 8.5 per game. The winner of this game will come down to who is more physical and who is more active on the glass. A win for MSU will show how far they have come through the midway point of the Big Ten season, and a win for Minnesota could turn them back in the right direction in the final stretch of the regular season. Note: It’s still uncertain whether MSU will be without freshman guard Gary Harris (back) and sophomore guard Travis Trice (concussion).      

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NHL officially won’t participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, cites hypocritical reason for not playing

Report: ‘Multiple’ teams open to giving Nerlens Noel max contract

Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charges

Report: Clippers ‘overwhelming favorite’ to keep Chris Paul

Giants owner: Signing Kaepernick would anger fans

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Trout to undergo MRI after suffering thumb injury

John Wall: Bench was cause of Wizards’ ‘downfall’

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbaugh, get him fired

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker