Michigan State and Butler have taken different paths during the early season toward their meeting on Wednesday at Indianapolis, and the teams will see which direction have prepared them best for the matchup.
For Michigan State, it threw itself into the fire right off the bat, having a season-opening game against No. 3 Kansas in New York City last Tuesday.
The Spartans suffered an 87-74 loss.
Michigan State then bounced back on Friday with a 90-46 home win over Western Michigan to enter against Butler with a more positive vibe.
As is the case with just about every team this time of year, the Spartans are still trying to build chemistry. Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker still is getting acclimated in the starting point guard role, and highly touted freshman Max Christie is trying to get inundated with college basketball.
“You can see we’re still not smooth yet,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “I think some of it is those point guards figuring it out, Tyson figuring out where he’s at yet. Getting the ball moved around. We didn’t shoot the ball very well from three, but I thought we had some great looks. They’ll fall.”
On the other side, Butler has used three, more traditional, non-conference games to build itself up for the collision with Michigan State.
The Bulldogs beat IUPUI 56-47, Central Arkansas 85-53 and Troy 70-59 in the three successive home games last week.
“That was a fun one,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said after the Troy game. “This group continues to fight through challenges, and we knew this would be one (Friday).”
Now, Butler will have its biggest, early season measuring stick against what’s usually one of the Big Ten’s best programs in Michigan State.
Thus far, Butler has been led by three players who are averaging in double figures, those being Chuck Harris (15.7 points), Jair Bolden (14.3) and Jayden Taylor (13.3).
–Field Level Media