Busting Brackets

Michigan State vs Virginia: 2020-21 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 04: Rocket Watts #2 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates a first half play with Julius Marble II #34 while playing the Detroit Titans at Breslin Center on December 04, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 04: Rocket Watts #2 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates a first half play with Julius Marble II #34 while playing the Detroit Titans at Breslin Center on December 04, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge with Michigan State and Virginia will feature a Top 25 primetime showdown between the Hauser brothers.

TV Schedule: Wednesday, December 9th, 9:15 pm ET, ESPN

Arena: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA.

A spectacular matchup will take place with the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans (5-0) versus the No. 18 Virginia Cavaliers (3-1) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night.

This will mark the 4th meeting that Michigan State and Virginia will face each other. The Spartans currently lead the all-time series 3-0, while winning the last meeting 60-54 in 2015. All three matchups in the past have been decided by seven points or less.

This matchup will mark the first time that the Hauser brothers will face each other during their collegiate careers. Both Sam and Joey Hauser played one season together at Marquette during the 2018-19 season. The two have had a tremendous impact as starters so far this season and are off to a great start with their new respective programs.

Sophomore forward and younger brother, Joey Hauser (14 ppg, 10 rpg), has played an important role during Michigan State’s undefeated start to the season. Joey Hauser is coming off a career-high 24-point game on Sunday against Western Michigan while knocking down six three-point shots. He also recorded a career-high 16 rebounds this season on November 28th versus Notre Dame.

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On Wednesday night, younger brother Joey will battle older brother Sam Hauser (14.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg), who is a senior forward for Virginia. Sam Hauser was able to keep the Cavaliers inside the Top 25 by taking control of Virginia’s game on Friday in overtime against Kent State. In the overtime session, he scored six points and had three rebounds, and one block to save Virginia from another heart-shattering upset.

Michigan State kept on rolling strong with three victories during last week’s action to start off December. Last Tuesday, the Spartans won on the road against Duke 75-69 to give the Blue Devils its second non-conference home loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2000. Michigan State had five players in double figures with sophomore guard, Rocket Watts (13.6 ppg, 4.2 apg), leading the way with 20 points.

On Friday, the Spartans survived a scare at home against the Detroit Mercy Titans from the Horizon League. Watts once again led the Spartans with 23 points, while junior forward, Gabe Brown (8.8 ppg), made three shots from the perimeter to score a season-high 16 points.

In Sunday’s action, Michigan State improved to 5-0 overall with a 79-61 victory at home over Western Michigan. Joey Hauser had a fantastic game by scoring a career-high 24 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the outside, while adding in four assists, two steals, and one block.

This week, Virginia was able to bounce back with two victories after suffering a one-point loss against San Francisco on November 27. Last week, the Cavaliers won convincingly at home 76-51 over the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash. 11 players for Virginia received playing time of at least 11 minutes against the Red Flash. Senior forward, Jay Huff (12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), led Virginia in scoring with 13 points and had three blocks.

On Friday, Virginia survived a second potential upset with a 71-64 overtime victory at home over Kent State. Sam Hauser scored 18 points and made three shots from the perimeter, while Huff posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

For Michigan State, the Spartans will look to get out to a faster start right out of the gate. Michigan State had trouble early against Duke and trailed 13-3 through approximately the first 4 minutes and 30 seconds of the first half. The Spartans once again got off to a slow start on Sunday against Western Michigan, allowing the Broncos to lead 17-12 with 12 minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the first half.

Also, Michigan State will also try to keep everyone involved and to share the basketball. The Spartans have done a great job so far this season sharing the basketball. In their last game against Western Michigan, Michigan State totaled 28 assists as a team and had four players who recorded at least four assists.

The Spartans also have a deep roster and currently have nine players who are averaging over 10 minutes per game this season. Head coach Tom Izzo has the ability to rotate the roster with multiple players who also will be a factor from the bench.

In this matchup, Michigan State will also try to take advantage of being aggressive from the perimeter against Virginia by knocking down their three-point shots. Virginia struggled to guard the perimeter against San Francisco and allowed the Dons to hit 13 three-point shots.

The two players that Michigan State will have to key on defensively will be Virginia’s top two scorers, with Sam Hauser and Jay Huff. The Cavaliers have had trouble finding consistent scoring options outside of those two this season.

As for Virginia, the Cavaliers will look to use their defense to their advantage to limit the Spartans’ top two scoring options with Joey Hauser and Rocket Watts. Virginia’s defense has been by far their strong suit this season. The Cavaliers enter Wednesday night’s matchup allowing a low 57.7 points per game to opponents.

On the offensive side of the ball, Virginia will need more players to step up offensively and to breakout. Junior point guard, Kihei Clark (7.5 ppg, 2.8 apg), is off to a slow start this season and will need to come through for Virginia to improve the Cavaliers’ chances of winning. Clark is riding a little momentum into the matchup, as he scored a season-high 14 points against Kent State on Friday.

Also, sophomore guard, Casey Morsell (5 ppg), who was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2019, has yet to break out during his Virginia career.

While, senior guard, Tomas Woldetensae (5.8 ppg), showed flashes of high-scoring games last season making at least three shots from the perimeter in seven of his games last season. This season, Woldetensae is off to a slow start offensively and has only made five shots total from the perimeter during his first four games.

Heading into Wednesday night’s matchup, Michigan State is riding their undefeated momentum and is looking to extend their record this season to 3-0 against ACC opponents, with victories against Notre Dame and Duke.

If not for closing out Friday’s game, Virginia would have been in danger of falling out of the AP Top 25 Poll this week. The Cavaliers are looking to find their first signature win of the season to move them closer towards the Top 10 of the rankings.

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Nevertheless, Wednesday night should be a fantastic battle between the two Hauser brothers, Joey and Sam, taking the spotlight to lead their teams in the ACC/Big Ten Battle in primetime.

Prediction: Michigan State 67, Virginia 63