Michigan State-Ohio State Round 3: All About Defense

By any metric both Michigan State and Ohio State are two of the best defensive teams in the nation. OSU is 6th in Kenpom's rankings while MSU is 7th (they're separated by 0.1 if you're curious).

In the meetings this season it is clear the team whose defense was more ferocious (and more physical) won the game.

Here are the two defensive score sheets from this year's previous meetings - MSU's 59-56 win in East Lansing and OSU's 68-60 win in Columbus.

It doesn't take a genius to see which game the Spartans won. Surprisingly, Adreian Payne was awful (read: he was in charge of Deshaun Thomas in round 1 when Thomas scored 28 of OSU's 56 points) but really good in round 2. Yet the results went the other way. It really starts and ends with Keith Appling.

What Appling will have to do today against the Buckeyes is let his defense fuel his offense. If he lets his offense, which is sure to be bogged down by Aaron Craft's defense, influence his defense then Michigan State could be in for a struggle.

A lot is seemingly at stake. A No. 1 seed is still up for grabs and while MSU looks like a solid No. 2 seed right now the Buckeyes have hopes of winning the Big Ten Tournament and leapfrogging the Spartans. Even just winning this game could get that done for OSU and push MSU to the No. 3 line. Who knows at this point, but it's a possibility.