The No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (21-5, 10-3) can sit alone atop the Big Ten standings on Sunday evening if they take care of business Sunday afternoon when they visit the Purdue Boilermakers (17-9, 7-6) at Mackey Arena.
With Michigan's win over Ohio State on Saturday night, Michigan State is poised to take control of the Big Ten race against a Purdue team struggling with off-court issues. On the court, the Spartans should be able to expose Purdue's struggles with front court play with a heavy dose of Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green and Derrick Nix using their bulk to carve out room around the rim.
After two consecutive wins, Purdue seemed to have their season back on track and headed toward post-season play, but things went off the rails off the court early Friday morning when an incident at a local watering hole left utility wing D.J. Byrd suspended for Michigan State and guard Kelsey Barlow dismissed from the team outright.
Like the Boilers, Byrd's play was trending in a positive direction and a big reason for the team's improved play. He had worked his way into the starting lineup and scored in double-figures in each of the last five games. During that stretch Byrd knocked down 18 of 34 three-point attempts.
Even without the internal turmoil, Purdue would have their hands full with Michigan State. The Spartans certainly earned their current standing in the Big Ten heading into Sunday's action on a four-game winning streak that in includes wins over No. 23 Michigan, at No. 3 Ohio State and No. 15 Wisconsin.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 1:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on CBS.