A DISTRACTED PROGRAM?
OK, so the Chicago Tribune isn’t exactly the “MSU media”, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t give you an independent perspective on how the Larry Nassar saga and related fallout at Michigan State is impacting Tom Izzo and his program. The Tribune covered it and highlighted how Izzo hasn’t been addressing the matter when asked:
“I’m going to do what I think is right,” Izzo said Wednesday night after the fifth-ranked Spartans beat Penn State for their fifth straight win. “I’m sorry. I really am. I watch a lot of TV and I see on shows that everybody thinks everybody has the right to ask a question. And, I’ve always believed that. I’ve always been a fan of the media. But I’ve got to have my rights, too.
“When the time comes, I’ll be able to speak out.”
Although questions are sure to come after the Indiana game, Izzo is not expected to change his stance.
If there is a cause for optimism for Saturday night, perhaps it is the potential for Indiana’s defense to force Michigan State turnovers. The Detroit Free Press highlighted the continuing challenges the Spartans are facing with giving the ball away, including nine first half turnovers against Penn State, and then three more in the final minute of the game. Tom Izzo addressed the matter:
“I think that’s the thing that bothers me the most about this team and the most about my staff and myself,” Izzo said, “because you’ve got to be able to get that corrected if you’re a coach. So I’m really gonna do what I do when I struggle a little bit – I’m gonna look in the mirror and figure out how I can do a better job, because it’s not always on the players.”
Overall Michigan State is 13th in the conference, averaging 14.3 turnovers a game.
START YOUR ENGINES
Hoosier fans might want to pay particular attention to the energy Michigan State brings to the early minutes of the game. Recent slow starts have forced the Spartans to mount late rallies to sustain their 5 game winning streak. The Detroit News notes that MSU has fallen behind by double digits in each of their last two games (Maryland and Penn State).
Spartan sophomore guard Cassius Winston tried to explain:
“It’s hard to put our finger on it, but it usually just comes with our energy and our intensity,” Winston said on Wednesday. “That’s the only thing I can put to it. We were out there playing flat, making a lot of bad plays, bad shots. It sucks our momentum out.”
PREDICTING A SWEEP
It isn’t exactly going out on a limb, but the Lansing State Journal believes that the Spartans will sweep the season series over the Hoosiers. As we highlighted yesterday, the Hoosiers have a bit of a knack for upsetting Izzo led teams at the Hall, so one never knows. Here’s that LSJ prediction:
Prediction: Indiana has blitzed the Spartans before at Assembly Hall. Just last year, in fact. On a Saturday night in Bloomington, this might be that kind of atmosphere. The Hoosiers this year, however, haven’t shown the ability to sustain that sort of offense or disrupt good teams defensively enough to beat them.
Make it: MSU 80, Indiana 75
SOMETHING ELSE – A BRUTAL B1G SCHEDULE TO SHOWCASE EMPTY SEATS?
Jay Rigdon at The Comeback profiles Indiana’s challenging Big Ten schedule, noting that on three different occasions the Hoosiers will play road games only 2 days after playing another game — leaving little time for recovery or preparation in light of the travel schedule. Indiana is 0-2 in such road games thus far and will do it again on Monday when they travel to Rutgers.
But perhaps more interesting is the reminder of why the schedule is so condensed. By now you likely know it is to allow for the Big Ten tournament to be played in New York at Madison Square Garden a week earlier than the tournament would normally be played. That is necessary because the Big East tournament will be played at MSG as normal the following week.
But one has to wonder how much this will benefit the Big Ten both optically and financially when considering what the Big Ten tournament attendance might be and how the earlier than normal schedule might impact its teams success in the NCAA tournament. As Rigdon puts it:
“And it’s all for the one-off visual of Purdue taking on Minnesota on a Friday afternoon in front of a half-full Madison Square Garden, two weeks before the NCAA Tournament. That the Big Ten’s NCAA-bound teams will have to sit around for up to two weeks is another problem Delany apparently doesn’t care about.”
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Main photo credit – Mike Mulholland | MLive.com