It all seemingly comes down to this for Indiana and Michigan State.
The Hoosiers cling to miniscule NCAA Tournament chances propped up only by so-called quadrant one wins. Michigan State comes to Bloomington and presents the last regular season opportunity to pick up another one of those ultra-valuable victories.
The Spartans control their own destiny to claim at least a share of the Big Ten title, but with both Purdue and Michigan right there with them, they can afford no slippage.
MSU seems to have caught Indiana’s early season injury bug, with at least two season opening starters out on Saturday and a third questionable.
The Hoosiers will seek to take advantage of Michigan State’s misfortune and earn their first season sweep since 2013.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
No. 6 Michigan State (23-5, 14-3) at Indiana (14-14, 5-12)
- Tip time: Noon Eastern
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: FOX (Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson)
- Series: Indiana leads 69-55 (Indiana won the last meeting 79-75 on Feb. 2 in OT)
- Point Spread: MSU is a 6 point favorite.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
Tom Izzo is in his 24th season leading the Michigan State program and has a career record of 597-230.
- Archie Miller and Juwan Morgan discuss the game.
- Tom Izzo calls Indiana the strangest team.
- Has a lack of vocal leadership derailed this season?
TOP MICHIGAN STATE NAMES TO KNOW
Cassius Winston is the straw that stirs the Spartans. A legitimate contender for first team All-American and the favorite for Big Ten player of the year, Winston does it all. He is currently averaging 19.2 points and 7.4 assists while shooting 46.8% overall and 42.6% from long range. As the Spartan injuries have mounted, Winston has taken on more and more of the production.
Xavier Tillman has stepped up his game in the place of injured starting forward Nick Ward, who suffered a fractured hand. Starting in the two games that Ward has missed thus far, Tillman has averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in those contests. He is efficient from the field, hitting 62.3% of his shots, and Tillman also leads the team in blocks with 1.5 per game.
Matt McQuaid is another Spartans starter that is injured. Nursing a sprained ankle, it sounds like he will attempt to play on Saturday. McQuaid is MSU’s top three-point shooter at 44%, and probably their best defender. He drew the Romeo Langford assignment for much of the first game and would likely take that job once again if he can do it on a less than 100 percent ankle.
Kenny Goins is Michigan State’s top rebounder (9.1 per game) and does a little bit of everything, including rim protection and perimeter shooting. A former walk-on, Goins has improved substantially this year, posting better numbers across the board in this his senior season.
TALE OF THE TAPE
See how the Hoosiers and Spartans stack up statistically:
KEYS TO VICTORY
Control the Glass. It might not be realistic for Indiana to have a +8 rebounding margin like they did in East Lansing, but Indiana needs to at least stay even rebounding the basketball and keep Michigan State from getting too many second chance opportunities. The Spartans are coming to Bloomington motivated and looking for revenge, and one thing you can always count on with an Izzo team is effort. IU’s effort has been high level over the last two weeks, but whoever is winning the rebounding battle might just tell you which team wants it more.
Indiana dominated the rebounding margin 53-29 last year in Bloomington, led by 16 from Freddie McSwain.
Control the Spartan tempo. Tom Izzo hasn’t kept it a secret — he wants to push the tempo. Indiana did a respectable job getting back on defense in the earlier meeting, and they’ll need to do it again on Saturday afternoon to avoid giving MSU easy opportunities before the defense gets set. Winston is at his best pushing the ball down the middle of the floor and finding runners on either side.
Make someone other than Winston beat you. Speaking of Winston, Indiana needs to work overtime to get the ball out of his hands. With Ward and Joshua Langford out, the Spartans do not have a lot of additional prolific scorers, and that will be even more the case if McQuaid is out or limited. This will likely be a Carsen Edwards/Markus Howard type of approach where Indiana flashes doubles and over helps towards Winston to get him to pick up his dribble or get him moving away from the basket.
Do enough on offense. Coming in at 8th in KenPom defensive efficiency, the Spartans are going to be tough to score on. Indiana didn’t have a great shooting night overall in the first meeting, but they continued to hit timely shots to keep the game close before they finally broke though in overtime. No one is expecting Indiana to shoot 60% from the field, but another sub-30% night like they managed against Purdue and Michigan won’t get it done. Something more akin to their 40% game against Wisconsin plus a strong rebounding day and a low turnover count might just be enough to pull another upset.
PREDICTION: Indiana 64 Michigan State 62
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Want to receive all of our content via one e-mail in your inbox every day? It’s free. Join our daily mailing list here.
Please consider supporting The Daily Hoosier by shopping on Amazon via this link to the Amazon home page or through the ad below.