The final leg of this brutal stretch of 7 of 11 games on the road ends with perhaps the most difficult of them all — a trip to East Lansing to face Michigan State.
With Indiana reeling on a seven game losing streak they now must go to the Breslin Center, a building where they have won just twice since it opened in 1989.
The Spartans present a major challenge on both ends of the floor, ranking in the top ten nationally in both KenPom adjusted offense and defense.
As unlikely as it seems, a win on Saturday in front of an ESPN Gameday audience would completely change the narrative of this season seemingly in freefall.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (12-9, 3-7) at Michigan State (18-3, 9-1)
- Tip time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern
- Location: Breslin Center (14,759)
- Television: ESPN (Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas)
- Series: Indiana leads 68-55 (Michigan State won the last meeting 63-60 on February 3, 2018)
- Point Spread: MSU is a 14.5 point favorite.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
Tom Izzo is in his 24th season leading the Spartans and has a career record of 592-228.
- Devonte Green will return against MSU | McRoberts and Davis still out
- The Michigan State perspective
TALE OF THE TAPE
KEYS TO VICTORY
Indiana’s Defense Needs to Keep it Close. While not a lock down unit, Indiana’s defense has shown the ability at times to be difficult to score on. They were effective last year against Michigan State in the second meeting. The Spartans are going through their own injury challenges right now, including the season ending injury to Joshua Langford and a back injury to Kyle Ahrens which has him as a game time decision. MSU hasn’t been as potent on offense in recent games, scoring 71 or fewer points in four of their last five games.
Phinisee and Green on Winston. Indiana got good news on Friday with expected return to action of junior guard Devonte Green. The timing couldn’t be better with All-American candidate Cassius Winston running the show at point guard for MSU. Winston is averaging 18.5 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 45.5% from long range. A key to running Miller’s pack-line defense is keeping pressure on the ball, and IU’s guards will have their hands full on Saturday night.
Transition Defense. This one is always paramount when playing MSU. The Spartans like to turn your makes (and misses) into quick buckets on the other end by beating you up the floor. Indiana cannot jog back, and they need to find Matt McQuaid, who hits 41% of his three-point shots. MSU leads the country in generating assists per field goal made, and many of those opportunities come from defensive breakdowns in transition.
Morgan and Langford Need to Stay on the Floor. Too often this year, and especially on the road, Indiana’s scoring leaders have gotten into first half foul trouble. And too often, that has led to big runs by the opposition. Morgan is going to have a tough task dealing with Nick Ward and a cadre of other Spartan big men including Xavier Tillman and Nick Goins. If Morgan and Langford can stay out of foul trouble it will go a long way towards keeping IU in it.
Minimize Turnovers. Michigan State is one of the worst teams in the country at turning teams over. That surprising statistic means that Indiana’s struggling offense should at least have more opportunities to get shots up. Don’t confuse that with the idea that the Spartans are a bad defensive team. They are the best team in the Big Ten at field goal percentage defense, three-point defense and blocked shots. And Breslin Center is a very tough venue that can rattle opponents. Indiana will need every clean possession possible. If IU can keep the turnovers to 12 or less, that will help give them a puncher’s chance in this one.
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