Michigan Hopes to Upset No. 4 Michigan State on the Road

The University of Michigan men's basketball team (14-4; 3-2 B1G) will play its second straight top-five opponent as the Wolverines travel down I-96 to East Lansing, Michigan, on Saturday (Jan. 13) to take on No. 4 Michigan State (16-2; 4-1 B1G) at the Breslin Center.

Tipoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be broadcast on FOX.

THE SERIES WITH MICHIGAN STATE
• Saturday's game marks the 180th all-time meeting between Michigan and Michigan State. In fact, it will be the only regular-season game between the two during the regular season.
• U-M leads the overall series with a 98-81 record. In the only meeting last season, the Wolverines snapped a five-game skid against MSU with an 86-57 win at Crisler Center.
• Michigan is 37-50 in games played in East Lansing and has won just twice there since 1998. U-M's last victory was an 80-75 decision on Jan. 25, 2014.
• U-M coach John Beilein is 7-11 all-time against Michigan State.

A LITTLE ABOUT THE SPARTANS
• Michigan State has just two losses this season. After dropping an 88-81 battle against Duke (Nov. 14), the Spartans went on to win 12 straight games including winning the PK80 before having the streak snapped with an 80-64 loss at Ohio State (Jan. 7). In its last time on the court, MSU needed overtime to earn a 76-72 win over a scrappy Rutgers team (Jan. 10).
• Michigan State is outscoring its opponents by 22.9 points (1st nationally) and is outrebounding them by 11.8 (2nd nationally). The Spartans are third nationally shooting 51.9 percent from the field, while holding its foes to just 34.5 percent.
• All five MSU starters average in double figures -- Miles Bridges leads with 16.5 points per game, followed by Nick Ward (14.8), Josh Langford (13.8), Cassius Winston (13.8) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (11.1).
• MSU, which is atop the nation in seven total categories, also leads the country with 21.7 assists per game as Winston has a Spartan-best 7.1 per game, while Tum Tum Nairn is at 4.1 apg.

WOLVERINE TIDBITS
• Michigan, which plays its second straight top-five foe, starts a four-games-in-11-day stretch.
• With the condensed Big Ten schedule this season, U-M also plays its second two-games-in-a-three-day span -- at Michigan State (Saturday, Jan. 13) before hosting Maryland (Monday, Jan. 15). Earlier this season, U-M had a one-day prep between Indiana (W, 69-55, Dec. 2) and at Ohio State (L, 71-62, Dec. 4).
• With five assists against Purdue, Zavier Simpson has taken over the team lead with 61 (3.4 per game). He has had five or more assists in five of his last six games.
• Over his past three games off the bench, Isaiah Livers is shooting an amazing 82.4 percent from the field (14-for-17), 87.5 percent from long range (7-for-8) and averaging 11.7 points.
• Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is 21 points away from 1,000 in his career. With 60 assists (3.3 per game) and just 10 turnovers, he ranks second nationally with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.0.
• U-M continues to use a three point guard combination -- Zavier Simpson, Eli Brooks and Jaaron Simmons. Together they give U-M 9.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
• U-M's "Big Four" -- Charles Matthews (15.6), Moritz Wagner (13.9), Abdur-Rahkman (10.8) and Duncan Robinson (9.9) -- has scored in double figures in 51 of 70 possibilities and posted all 11 20-plus point games. They have accounted for nearly 64 percent of the U-M offensive production, averaging 48.6 points per game together.

SOME INTERESTING MICHIGAN POINTS
• U-M coach John Beilein prefers to stick to an eight- or nine-man rotation, but this season he has played up to as many as 10 or even 11 players.
• The balance of minutes has been very interesting for U-M's role players as Eli Brooks (259, 14.4 mpg), Isaiah Livers (254, 14.1 mpg), Jon Teske (254, 14.1 mpg) and Jordan Poole (161, 10.1 mpg) all are in double figures. Michigan's bench is averaging 21.5 points per game.
• Beilein has always wanted to have multiple players distributing the ball. So far this season he has three Wolverines with 50-plus assists -- Zavier Simpson (61), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (60), and Charles Matthews (52). The last time U-M had three with 100-plus assists in a season was in 2013-14 -- Nik Stauskas (118), Caris LeVert (109) and Derrick Walton Jr. (106) -- all of whom are currently in the NBA.
• As with most Beilein coached teams, the three-pointer is a featured scoring component. So far this season nearly 44 percent of U-M's offense comes via the long range shot -- 467 threes attempted (18th nationally). U-M has made eight or more three-pointers in 15 of 18 games. The Wolverines have 10 games with 10-plus triples including a season-high 15, twice -- vs. Chaminade and Alabama A&M.
• Flipping the script, U-M's opponents are averaging just 5.6 three-pointers per game. In the first four games, the Wolverines allowed 32 triples (8.0 per game), but they buckled down over their last 14 games allowing 70 three-pointers for a 5.8 per-game average. U-M has held an opponent to five-or-fewer triples in 10 games including a season-low two by Indiana.
• With more defensive intensity stressed this season, U-M already has 127 steals -- 7.1 per game -- with seven Wolverines collecting 10 or more swipes already. The highest team total with Beilein at U-M was 239 during the 2012-13 season (39 games, 6.1 per game).
• Michigan's free-throw numbers have been lower than usual this season as the Wolverines are shooting 64.7 percent on the season. Over the last three games, U-M has shot 75.6 percent including a season-best 19-for-24 (79.2%) performance against Illinois. Last season, the Wolverines set the program record for free-throw percentage at 77.9 percent.