NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with his team during a time out during play against the Duke Blue Devils during the 2011 State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
When Michigan State faces Florida State tonight in the 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge the Spartans will be looking at a team similar to themselves. The Seminoles are the third ranked team from the ACC that Michigan State has played in the early going this season, and The Only Colors sees them as a mirror:
Both teams are winning with defense (FSU is #4 in the nation in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency numbers, MSU #6), both excel on the offensive glass (FSU has an offensive rebounding % of 38.4, MSU 35.5%) and both have tremendous struggles taking care of the ball (FSU has a 25.3% turnover rate, MSU 23.8%). Both teams lost reasonably close games against the only two quality opponents they have faced, FSU in their last two and MSU in their first two.
SB Nation's Tomahawk Nation sees this as a chance to improve conference strength, which is incredibly important when it comes to NCAA Tournament seeding:
The reason FSU fans should care about who wins the Challenge is that - unlike football - conference strength is extremely important to the teams within that conference. Over half of our games are against ACC opponents, and come Selection Sunday it will all be about our RPI ranking and our Strength of Schedule
So far the Big Ten has done very well in this year's challenge as the conference tried to win its third straight after dropping the first ten to the ACC. The Big Ten took four of the six games last night with Ohio State pounding Duke, Northwestern beating Georgia Tech, Purdue beating Miami, and Illinois earning a comeback win at Maryland. The Big Ten needs only a split of tonight's six games to win this year's event.
Wednesday's game will be televised at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.