What to Expect: Michigan State

IUMSUITH0016After finishing off a two-game homestand with an 83-55 win over rival Purdue, Indiana heads to East Lansing on Tuesday night for a meeting with Michigan State. The Hoosiers and Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten standings at 11-2.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. with Mike Tirico, Dick Vitale and Magic Johnson on the call:

In a Big Ten season that’s been full of meetings between highly ranked teams, the latest marquee matchup sends the Hoosiers north to face Michigan State at the Breslin Center. Michigan State is always tough to beat at home under Tom Izzo and this season is no different as the Spartans have amassed a 14-0 record.

While not a must-win for Indiana to remain in the race for the Big Ten title, a win would put the Hoosiers in good shape for the outright title as the Spartans still have trips to Michigan and Ohio State and a home date with Wisconsin remaining on their schedule.

PERSONNEL

As many expected before the season, Michigan State’s Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans, have formed one of the nation’s best backcourts. Appling, who battled foul trouble for most of the game last month in Bloomington, leads the Spartans in scoring at 14.1 points per game. Appling isn’t a great shooter, but he’s adequate enough at 33.7 percent on threes and 45.7 percent on twos. Known as a hard-nosed defender, a lot of his value comes as a ball stopper on the perimeter and as a guy who can create turnovers (2.7 steal percentage) and get the ball going the other way.

Harris, who scored 21 points and single-handedly kept Michigan State in the game at Assembly Hall, has been on fire from the perimeter in Big Ten play. The Hamilton Southeastern product is shooting 53 percent on his 3-point attempts in league play. Like Appling, he can really cause havoc defensively with ball pressure. Backup Travis Trice, who has missed four straight games with a concussion, is unlikely to play, so Denzel Valentine will get the majority of the reserve minutes in the Spartan backcourt. Valentine is making close to 35 percent of his threes and does a nice job of distributing the ball (22.4 assist rate), but is also mistake prone (31.3 turnover percentage).

Yet another McDonald’s All-American, Branden Dawson, occupies the three position in East Lansing and the Gary native is an elite athlete who is finishing 70 percent of his shots at the rim. Dawson is Michigan State’s best offensive rebounder (10.4 OR%) and also has a team-high 46 steals, but struggles at the foul line where he hits just 54.4 percent of his attempts.

Up front, few teams in the country can match the size and physicality of the Spartans. Both Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix average 9.5 points per game and are setting the Michigan State rebounding pace as well. Payne averages a team-high 7.0 rebounds and Nix averages 6.5. Payne is the more versatile offensive option of the two as he’s shown the ability to step out on the perimeter this season and knock down threes. Payne is also extremely efficient around the basket with a field goal percentage of 79 on shots at the rim. He’s the Big Ten’s best defensive rebounder and also has a team-high 32 blocks.

Nix has the size and strength to back opponents down in the post and his free throw rate (56.5) leads the team and is a major concern for IU as the Hoosiers must avoid foul trouble. The primary backup options in the frontcourt are redshirt sophomore Alex Gauna and freshman Matt Costello, but neither guy will get more than spot duty unless Payne or Nix have foul issues.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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Through 13 league games, Michigan State ranks third in the Big Ten on both sides of the ball. The Spartans are scoring 1.07 points per possession while surrendering .96 per trip to opponents. By comparison, IU has the Big Ten’s best offense at 1.16 points per possession and the second-best defense at .95 points per possession.

What’s holding back the Spartans defense is a below average mark defending twos. Conference opponents are shooting 47.7 percent from inside the arc, which is a bit surprising for a group this athletic and talented up front. The Spartans do grade out well in other key areas like defensive turnover percentage (19.1) and grabbing defensive rebounds, but an opponent free throw percentage of just 62.8 percent also suggests that Michigan State has had some breaks go its way in league play.

Offensively, the Spartans have shot the ball well from the perimeter in Big Ten play (39.7 percent) and are also getting to the line at a healthy clip (38.5 free throw rate). In a departure from many of the Izzo-coached teams we’ve seen in the past, Michigan State is only rebounding 32.5 percent of its missed shots in conference play. That ranks just sixth in a category where the Spartans haven’t ranked worse than 2nd since 2006.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Indiana is looking for its first win in East Lansing since Jan. 26, 1991 and the health of Victor Oladipo will play a critical role in the outcome of this game. All indications are that Oladipo will give it a go, but it’s important for the Hoosiers to have him at or at least close to 100 percent. Also important is Indiana continuing to start strong away from Assembly Hall as it has in nearly every Big Ten game. The Hoosiers haven’t always finished strong (see Illinois), but in an environment like the Breslin Center, it’s easy to get down big early like opponents often do in Bloomington. Indiana avoided a poor start in Columbus and this will be an even stiffer test.

Turnovers are also important for both teams. The Hoosiers have basically been unbeatable when limiting turnovers and one of Michigan State’s strengths is forcing turnovers. Indiana has done an even better job of forcing turnovers in Big Ten play (20.7 defensive turnover percentage), so this will be a key metric to monitor as the game goes along.

Free throws will also be critical to IU’s success and while the Hoosiers shot just 13-of-20 in the first meeting, Michigan State only shot six free throws in that game. Establishing Cody Zeller early and playing inside-out like the Hoosiers did against Ohio State could open up the potential of foul trouble on Nix or Payne and could also free up IU’s perimeter guys for easier looks.

Ken Pomeroy is bullish on the Hoosiers in this one with a predicted 71-69 Hoosier win and a 60 percent chance that IU moves to 12-2 in the Big Ten.

  • Jack Breslin

    Need to get updated, Alex re: MSU…Valentine has significantly reduced the mistakes in recent weeks and Costello is making a much bigger impact these days as well (check the numbers from his last two games..12 points and 6 boards last week off the bench).

  • Brklynhoosier

    Just curious — does anyone remember the last time we won in East Lansing? I think it must have been the early ’90s — I remember a game (in ’01?) where it came down to Mike Lewis missing some shots in the last minute at the charity stripe. But a win?… In any case, I’m feeling it for tomorrow…

  • Timboslice

    read the article. It says 1991.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    February 28, 1991

  • Brklynhoosier

    Thx Alex!

  • Brklynhoosier

    Thx Alex!

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    Valentine has 6 turnovers over his last three games and still has the team-high in turnover rate. He has one Big Ten game without a turnover and six games with two or more. For a guy that hasn’t logged more than 24 minutes in a single conference game, those aren’t particularly good turnover figures. He might be playing better as of late, but his turnovers are still an issue.

    As for Costello, he played well against Michigan (a blowout) and hasn’t really done much besides that.

  • http://twitter.com/RWNemanich Robert Nemanich

    Pom is saying 71, depending on Oladipo’s effectiveness, high end IU scores 78, low is 70, they win, game in 60’s advantage MSU

  • SCHoosier

    If Trice can’t play..it takes another good ball handler and shooter off the court for MSU. I think MSU wants a half court game..powering the ball inside when they can hoping to get Zeller and Wat in foul trouble. When IU is in the half court..they should try to do the same thing..to Payne and Nix..cause fouls could well determine this outcome. One thing IU can NOT do..is fall for those ambush TO’s on rushed in bounds and careless rebound passes. We gave up four possessions and I think 6 points on those needless TO’s. in the first game. Harris has been on fire..so have to know where he is at all times.

  • SCHoosier

    If Trice can’t play..it takes another good ball handler and shooter off the court for MSU. I think MSU wants a half court game..powering the ball inside when they can hoping to get Zeller and Wat in foul trouble. When IU is in the half court..they should try to do the same thing..to Payne and Nix..cause fouls could well determine this outcome. One thing IU can NOT do..is fall for those ambush TO’s on rushed in bounds and careless rebound passes. We gave up four possessions and I think 6 points on those needless TO’s. in the first game. Harris has been on fire..so have to know where he is at all times.

  • PDXHoosier

    We need to get out of the gate fast. If we go down ten early, I don’t know if we will be able to get back over the hump.

    Everyone talks about our trouble with match-ups on defense, but remember they have to match-up with us, also!

    MSU has more to lose in this game, but I think we have more to gain. I think the pressure is on them.

    I really hope we shut down Nix after all the trash talk this week. Elston will have to step up his game, especially if Cody gets in foul trouble.

  • IUHoosiers23

    I like our chances tomorrow. I just think we are a better team. I do think we are going to have to overcome some calls not going our way. I don’t think Cody will live at the line and I expect to have some garbage go against us early as far as whistles. I see a big game at both ends from Wat. He looks so focused as of late. And someone please mark Harris.

  • IUHoosiers23

    I like our chances tomorrow. I just think we are a better team. I do think we are going to have to overcome some calls not going our way. I don’t think Cody will live at the line and I expect to have some garbage go against us early as far as whistles. I see a big game at both ends from Wat. He looks so focused as of late. And someone please mark Harris.

  • VerdellJonesIV

    We almost won 2 years ago when Jeremiah Rivers had a chance to put them away with those free throws.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    It’s Indiana’s own damn fault, but, because of that unconscionable collapse at Illinois, they now probably have to win this one to take the B1G. If IU really is the best team in the country, we need to see it tomorrow. A sweep of MSU would leave no doubt who deserves that number one seed in the Midwest. Go Hoosiers!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Watford has had some pretty solid games in East Lansing. I expect this to continue. We collectively have generally been so very close to winning despite the gawdy record there since the 90’s. If we play strong and take it one posession at a time we have a very good chance at being there at the end.

  • chiswede

    We win 2 of these next three and we have the B1G title. We win all three, and all the doubters jump on the bandwagon. I’ll be on there too, kicking them off for taking so long.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Swift kicks to the chins. We took our fair share the last 5 years despite the obvious rebuilding project. Now it is time for redemption. The best part is that we are not going away in the future either.

    Program.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    No way IU turns it over like that again on the inbound. Our players are taught to rush the ball in as quickly as possible after makes. Credit Izzo for picking up on that in film, that we don’t even look where we are going with the ball always, and having their guards coming back to Yogi. But it was a quick adjustment in the second half to have Watford and Sheehey pay more attention with the inbound. Problem solved, it’s not going to happen again.

    As far as going back at Payne and Nix, I’m right with you. The old NBA strategy with a big, physical guy that you cannot guard on the block, is to use your speed and quickness to make them work on the other end. Foul them out, wear the out, by attacking them when you’ve got the ball. Not to mention, it’s been IU’s best strategy to get Zeller and Watford established inside against any opponent. This is one game where we don’t have the benefit of forgetting that.

  • MillaRed

    I agree. Costello has done little that matters.

  • HoosierTrav

    Energy on the defensive and a must win attitude going into this one is paramount in beating a hot Sparty. They will feed off of there crowd to begin. Its going to be the most hostile crowd our boys have seen by far this season. ENERGY ENERGY ENERGY! Watford needs to bring Nix outside of the paint and Victor needs to play like hes been offended by Derrick Nix’s comments. Cody has been outplayed by Payne 2 out of their 3 meetings and needs to rebound the ball efficiently in this one. I think Appling is the x-factor for MSU and this makes Yogi ours as well IMHO. I hope these boys are as ready as i am. Winning this game launches us into predator status.

  • HoosierTrav

    Was Costello the guy in the highlight where Buss dunked on him in transition? That was disgusting!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i think we are gonna win out. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i think we are gonna win out. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • jermhoosierfan

    I thought we should have won this game last year, but the offense went into a funk in the second half that lost us the game. The defense is much better also, so I do expect a win if they can keep Appling and Harris under the control. Should be fun but yet nerve racking to watch.

  • marcusgresham

    The best thing for Cody may be to go to the high post and make Payne come out with him. Then he can use his speed, which is his advantage. Down low he isn’t nearly as strong.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    Indiana is ranked ahead of Michigan State in defensive efficiency.

    And Valentine has one of the worst turnover percentages in the entire Big Ten.

  • HoosierTrav

    I totally agree. I really like how Cody has been working with CWat in the high post. This also isolates Watford with Nix on the perimeter….. Did you see what nix RT’d about Cody earlier? If Cody and Vic go off, Izzo can put some amount of blame on Nix and his mouth.

  • HoosierinKY

    Did anyone take note of the amount of zone we played i th first meeting? I’m pretty sure it was most of the game even when we saw them making 3’s we stuck to the game plan and it worked. I know most of you don’t like the zone but in this case to avoid a defensive deficiency with Jordy it might be the best recipe.

  • IUJeff

    I have a bad feeling about this one. A win at home by 5 = a road loss by 7 IMO.

    In the first go around, MSU beat us in FGAs, rebounds, assists, 3 pt’ers, and steals while we were rewarded 5 less fouls and made 8 more pts at the line.

    Sorry to be the pessimist but add to that the +1 in coaching Izzo gets, Appling getting homered in the last meet and sitting, and the writing is on the wall.

    Rooting hard for IU but this is an extreme uphill battle.

  • IUJeff

    Did you not see what they did to MU last week? There was not a better team in the country that night. I hope they have trash talked themselves into some bad karma but it is gonna be a long night.

    The master does not let the apprentice win round 2 at home. Izzo is doing just what Brad Stepens did. Lavishing all that praise on the IU players to make himself look that much better when he wins. I liked BS before that game, but he knew his team was likely to win and set himself up to look especially great by winning with all the pregame BS.

  • http://twitter.com/RWNemanich Robert Nemanich

    more mind games, this cou;d back fire

  • http://twitter.com/RWNemanich Robert Nemanich

    more mind games, this cou;d back fire

  • http://twitter.com/RWNemanich Robert Nemanich

    I think strategy and prep will be better than any us amateurs can conjure up

  • Eastwood88_2

    Win this one and we win the big ten. Period

  • Eastwood88_2

    First game 2/3 zone. This game you will not see much. Different stats. Plus we are playing our best. If we lose the officials will be the reason?

  • http://twitter.com/Creek0512 Creek0512

    MSU committed 5 more fouls? Interesting that 5 of their fouls came in the last 90 seconds, why would you foul at the end of the game?

  • mike

    We’ll see if Crean has the sense to use the more athetic and longer lineup of Sheehey and Oladipo together and only one of the small guards. Harris has been really hot and no way IU can guard him with Hulls or Ferrell, nor can one of them guard Dawson. Gotta have Sheehey in there and I would choose to play Hulls less, unless Ferrell is not playing well … Hulls has not played too well on the road in the B10 and is shooting less than 40% on 3s in B10 play. I think MSU by 4-5, hope I’m wrong.

  • mike

    We’ll see if Crean has the sense to use the more athetic and longer lineup of Sheehey and Oladipo together and only one of the small guards. Harris has been really hot and no way IU can guard him with Hulls or Ferrell, nor can one of them guard Dawson. Gotta have Sheehey in there and I would choose to play Hulls less, unless Ferrell is not playing well … Hulls has not played too well on the road in the B10 and is shooting less than 40% on 3s in B10 play. I think MSU by 4-5, hope I’m wrong.

  • deedubbadoo

    Anyone know who the officials are for tonight’s game? If I see Ted Valentine, I might throw up.

  • deedubbadoo

    Anyone know who the officials are for tonight’s game? If I see Ted Valentine, I might throw up.

  • SCHoosier

    Yes..Izzo will be working the refs in pre-game for the homer calls and will get some. Remember though..last game we gave away 6-8 pts on rushed in bounds/rebound passes that Sparties we’re waiting on. Can’t see that happening this game.

  • SCHoosier

    Last game Cody took Nix with Wat on Payne..given Payne’s tendency to go outside..I expect the same match-up tonight.??

  • Oldguyy

    Did you not see the more recent game they played against Nebraska? They’re hardly supermen.

  • Hillman44

    Sheehy will be key in this one..

  • Cory Robinson

    I’ve always liked Ken!

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