It has been a while since we have seen a Michigan State team with a resume like this in February.
The Spartans haven’t finished below .500 in Big Ten play since 1997, but that is where they appear to be headed in 2021 barring a miraculous late-season recovery.
Indiana has won three straight over Michigan State, and another win over MSU on Saturday would mark a fourth win in five games as the Hoosiers look to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s the Hoosiers and Spartans in Bloomington for a Saturday afternoon matinee.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Michigan State (10-9, 4-9) at Indiana (12-9, 7-7)
- Tip time: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
- Television: ESPN (Jason Benetti and Dan Dakich)
- IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, Joe Smith)
- Series: Indiana leads 71-55 (Indiana won last meeting 67-63 in 2020)
- Point Spread: Indiana is a 6 point favorite
- KenPom has No. 28 Indiana by 7 points over No. 69 Michigan State, 70-63
Michigan State is led by Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo who is in his 26th season and is 638–250.
MEET THE SPARTANS
After starting the season 6-0 including wins over Notre Dame and Duke, Michigan State has fallen on some unusually hard times, losing nine of their last 13 contests.
Michigan State’s struggles can be traced primarily to the offensive end of the court where the Spartans have the second worst KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency in the Big Ten at No. 99 in the country, leading only Nebraska. The main problems are an effective field goal percentage of 48.2 percent that ranks just No. 254 nationally, and a turnover rate of 19.5 percent that ranks No. 190. With Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman having both moved on to professional careers, MSU has lacked a go to alpha scorer.
With a No. 43 adjusted defensive efficiency KenPom ranking, the Spartans are better on the other end of the floor. Headlined by an 11.6 percent block rate (No. 46), the Spartans force the opposition into a 48.1 percent effective field percentage, good for No. 97 nationally. Historically speaking that figure is nowhere near MSU standards. The Spartans have been top-5 in defensive effective field goal percentage each of the last three seasons.
6-foot-6 forward and Indianapolis product Aaron Henry leads the way for MSU. He has scored in double figures 16 times and is the only Division I player averaging at least 14.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Henry has struggled from long range, making just 28.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
6-foot-5 guard Josh Langford has scored in double figures eight times but he has not been efficient from the field, shooting just 36.5 percent overall although he has made a respectable 36.4 percent from 3-point range on a team-high 77 attempts.
6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Rocket Watts has been a problem, shooting just 34 percent from the field including just 27.9 percent from long range. Watts has been a good facilitator. His 29.9 percent assist rate is No. 79 nationally. 6-foot-3 freshman point guard A.J. Hoggard has started some in Watts’ place but he has similarly struggled from the field and has a team high 26.4 percent turnover rate.
6-foot-9 forward Joey Hauser has four double-doubles. He is a high-level defensive rebounder and converts of 59.4 percent of his two-point shots. His 22.7 percent turnover rate is the second highest on the team. Hauser is a threat to score inside and out.
6-foot-8 forward Gabe Brown started 16 times last season. He has scored 15 or more points three times this year but has only played more than 21 minutes twice all season. He is the team’s best 3-point shooter at 45.1 percent.
6-foot-7 forward Malik Hall came into the season with high expectations but has struggled of late, scoring more than five points just once in the last ten games.
6-foot-11 forward Marcus Bingham started 16 times last season and was expected to have a big role. But he hasn’t played more than 20 minutes or scored in double figures in a game all season. Bingham is not a perimeter threat.
6-foot-8 forward Thomas Kithier has started 14 times but only averages 12.7 minutes per game. He is an efficient inside scorer but not a threat from the perimeter.
6-foot-8 forward Julius Marble is coming off a career high 10 points at Purdue in his most extensive action (19 minutes) of the season. Marble is not a perimeter threat.
6-foot junior guard Foster Loyer is injured and not expected to play.
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