What to Expect: Michigan State

  • 02/26/2012 10:22 pm in

Indiana faces one of its quickest turnarounds of the season as the Hoosiers welcome Michigan State to Assembly Hall on Tuesday night. The Spartans can clinch an outright Big Ten regular season title with a win. Indiana is looking to avenge a 80-65 loss in East Lansing on Dec. 28. 

The game will be shown on ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Jay Bilas) and broadcast on the IU radio network (Sirius 91/XM 91):

If there’s a pair of games with a chance to duplicate the atmosphere that filled Assembly Hall when Kentucky and Ohio State came to town in December, Michigan State and Purdue may fit the bill. The Spartans will be the third top ten team the Hoosiers have hosted this season. Purdue is the finale of the regular season schedule and senior night.

An interesting week awaits.

The Spartans, winners of seven straight, are trending toward a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to one of the nation’s best defenses. Tom Izzo’s club is allowing just .90 points per possession in Big Ten play, which leads the conference.

Here’s a look at how Michigan State stacks up nationally in some key defensive metrics: Sixteenth in 2-point field goal percentage defense at 42.4 percent; sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense at 28.2 percent; third in effective field goal percentage defense at 42.3 percent. Opponents are rebounding just 26.6 of their misses on the offensive glass, which is good for sixteenth in the country.

There’s something to be said for how brilliantly IU’s offense has performed over 29 games. The Hoosiers boast one of the nation’s five best offenses according to Ken Pomeroy.

But Michigan State’s ability to defend the 3-point line coupled with their frontline of Adreian Payne, Draymond Green and Derrick Nix presents an interesting dilemma for how Indiana attacks the Spartan defense. Michigan State will almost certainly choose to play Cody Zeller straight up. It was a strategy that yielded success in the first meeting between the two team as Zeller finished with four points, three rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes.

IU’s star freshman has been successful against some of the nation’s best big men like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, but seemed to struggle against the physicality of Payne and Nix up in East Lansing. If they’re successful again in playing Zeller with one defender, open perimeter looks and secondchance points will be scarce.

Given that Michigan State will be able to pose problems with their defense, IU must exploit a few areas where the Spartans have weaknesses with the ball. The Spartans are turning it over on 19.5 percent of their possessions in Big Ten play, which is eighth in the conference. Forcing turnovers hasn’t been a strength for IU in Big Ten play, but doing so in this game could turn out to be pivotal.

Indiana must also continue their parade to the free throw line they started up in Minneapolis. In the loss in East Lansing, the Hoosiers attempted just nine free throws. In their nine Big Ten wins, IU is averaging 27.4 free throw attempts. Michigan State’s opponent free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in Big Ten play is just 31.6 percent, but another nine free throw game for the Hoosiers is unlikely to yield favorable results.

What it comes down to

Indiana is nearly perfect at home (16-1) and the home court advantage Assembly Hall provides should make for an electric atmosphere. That said, Indiana will need to play its best to derail Michigan State from wrapping up the Big Ten title. Pomeroy likes the Spartans to prevail — 71-68 — but gives the Hoosiers a 39% chance to win. Even with their NCAA Tournament ticket punched, an upset would give IU wins over a trio of top five teams and would likely lock up a top four seed in the big dance.

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  • gonzo812

    Yeah you’re right, we’d have to be the 4 in Nashville for the matchup  with UK to happen.

  • Bub

    CBS should send Seth Davis to Bloomington for the live shot.  He loves some IU hoops.

  • Bub

    CBS should send Seth Davis to Bloomington for the live shot.  He loves some IU hoops.

  • calbert40

     Completely agree.  Obviously, to beat a team of MSU’s level, we need our starters to play well, but I think Elston and TP are big keys.  We need quality minutes and 6-8 pts, 3-5 rebs from Elston.  Then we need TP to go in and make their bigs work hard while CZ is resting.  They don’t need to fill up the stat sheet, but just play within themselves and give us quality minutes.

  • calbert40

     I don’t.  They do just about everything well, and they have one of the best coaches in America.  I think we can beat them, but this will be a difficult test.  We need to rebound well and play solid D to win.  Let’s get it done!

  • Southport65

    A lot has been said about our defense and who should guard who? I am more concerned about the offensive side we can’t have,Cody, VO and Jones get 12 turnovers like last game. MS will turn those right into 24 points. I was happy to see Watford and Hulls score last game but more happy that Hulls had 3 Assists and 0 Turnovers. He leads the team in assists for the year and in Big 10 play. I know his defensive limits but he also causes trouble for opposing teams with his scoring and assists. He needs another TO free game, Watford needs to bring his A game, VO and Jones need to limit turnovers, and Cody to stay out of foul trouble while helping on weak side defense. They do that and we win the game. 

  • iualf71

    Wisconsin’s coming in the B1G Tourney, that who we draw!

  • HoosierTrav

    He wouldn’t make it out.

  • Bmurph416

     Spartan fan here-  I don’t know if we are overrated-  This team has played better than the sum of its parts.  Many feel as though this is Izzo’s best coaching job

  • Geoff_85

    It seems to me this team plays better on the shorter days of rest, or at least not after a lengthy 5 or 6 days of rest. I feel more comfortable with these guys playing the day after a game, which wasn’t a grind, rather than wait nearly a week. Hopefully some of the momentum from that road win coupled with lots of energy at the start of the game from the raucous Assembly Hall crowd will motivate the hell out of these guys.

  • Geoff_85

    It seems to me this team plays better on the shorter days of rest, or at least not after a lengthy 5 or 6 days of rest. I feel more comfortable with these guys playing the day after a game, which wasn’t a grind, rather than wait nearly a week. Hopefully some of the momentum from that road win coupled with lots of energy at the start of the game from the raucous Assembly Hall crowd will motivate the hell out of these guys.

  • Geoff_85

    I thought about this today. My friend who is a fan of Mich facebooked something about O$U messing up IU’s chances for 4th place in conference, but gave his squad 2nd place. I told him that I was just fine with 5th place to which he replied, “That doesn’t make any sense. 4th place means you only have to win 3 games to win the conference tournament.” I said that I’ll take the extra game against Penn State if that means IU gets another chance at Wisconsin. I hope IU gets them soooo bad.

  • Geoff_85

    No way that’s what they HAVE to do to get a 4 seed. Lunardi has them at a 4 seed right now. Are you paying attention to the rest of college basketball? Not trying to be a jerk, but maybe Indiana is doing a little better than you think.

  • Geoff_85

    Agreed.