With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Michigan State Spartans.
After an uninspiring regular season, Michigan State did what they’re best known for in March – win. A 7-seed in the NCAA tournament, the Spartans reached their 9th Final Four last year, Tom Izzo’s 7th with the team in his 20-year career as head coach. MSU has made the tournament 18 straight years, and will have the talent to make that 19 this year.
The Spartans graduated guard Travis Trice (signed free agent deal with the New York Knicks) and forward Branden Dawson, who was selected 56th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA draft, from a team that finished 27-12 a season ago.
The Big Ten is sending half of its teams to the 2015 NCAA tournament, as seven of the league’s 14 teams were selected into the field of 68. Each of those teams also avoided the play-in games in Dayton, setting up match-ups on Thursday and Friday across the United States.
Wisconsin holds the highest seed out of any Big Ten team as the league’s regular season and tournament champion. At 31-3, the Badgers earned a No. 1 seed in the West region and get to play in Omaha, Neb., to open the tournament. Michigan State has become a trendy Final Four pick after its Big Ten tournament run and faces Georgia in the second round with a chance at playing Virginia in the round of 32. And Purdue, with a win over Cincinnati, could face undefeated Kentucky. Those are some of the storylines the Big Ten faces in the round of 64.
Below is a look at each Big Ten team’s opening matchup in the NCAA tournament:
With their Big Ten tournament title, the Badgers earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and the right to play Coastal Carolina, a team that finished third in the Big South Conference, in the second round in Omaha. And the Badgers are big favorites for this one. The Chanticleers come into this game with a defense not particularly known for having great success — it ranks No. 162 in the nation in defensive efficiency at 1.02 points per possession allowed per game, and it will be going against the country’s No. 1 offense in Wisconsin.
Indiana’s failure to secure the boards and put up enough resistance on the defensive end — no matter how it was set up — was its undoing on Saturday afternoon against Michigan State.
We’ll take a look at the rebounding and defensive issues in the second half in the latest edition of Film Session:
Indiana appears to be some sort of a matchup zone — maybe? — with Yogi Ferrell guarding space out on the left wing. As we’ve seen too often this season, it leaves an opponent wide open as Marvin Clark has plenty of space in the left corner. The ball is passed to Travis Trice up top:
Ferrell pursues and Clark gets even more space:
Trice zips the pass into the let corner as Ferrell leaves Trice to cover:
Indiana suffered its third straight loss on Saturday afternoon in Assembly Hall as Michigan State controlled the second half and held off a late rally for a 74-72 win. The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 19-12 overall.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Spartans:
· Indiana has another early, costly second half lull: A pair of layups, one by Hanner Mosquera-Perea and another by Yogi Ferrell, pushed Indiana to a 38-34 lead at the 18:56 mark of the second half. The crowd in Assembly Hall was engaged.
The next two and a half minutes, however, would set the tone for most of the second half. On Michigan State’s next possession, the Spartans missed a pair of 3-pointers, but grabbed offensive rebounds on both before Travis Trice set up Marvin Clark for a 3-pointer. By the 16:13 mark, Michigan State was in the midst of a 9-0 run and even though IU would again take the lead briefly in the subsequent minutes, the inability to sustain energy early in the second half proved costly.
“They got a lot of second-chance opportunities with the offensive rebound kick outs,” Yogi Ferrell said. “We’ve just got to fight them better. Got to crack them before they come into the paint because we know that they are big.”
As the buzzer sounded for the under-4 media timeout in the second half of Saturday’s game against Michigan State, Hoosiers fans became restless. Indiana trailed by 11 points and Yogi Ferrell had just turned the ball over with just 3:50 remaining.
Fans began to boo. Some left Assembly Hall. But the Hoosiers didn’t quit.
Indiana went on a 16-7 run in the final 3:15, but it wasn’t enough. The Hoosiers (19-12, 9-9) on Saturday lost their third straight game in a 74-72 defeat to the Spartans (21-10, 12-6).
“I feel like we came out too slow and we all tried to turn it on too late,” freshman James Blackmon Jr. said. “We turned it on and made that run, but we should have just picked it up from the start.”
After a first half in which both teams were even on the scoreboard, Indiana went on a 4-0 spurt to start the second half — two quick layups back-to-back to bring Indiana’s lead to a 38-34 margin. Michigan State, though, would follow with a 9-0 run of its own, setting the tone for much of the second half.
Two offensive rebounds led to a Marvin Clark 3-pointer. A missed Hanner Mosquera-Perea layup turned into an Alvin Ellis III layup in just four seconds. Another offensive rebound led to a Clark put-back. And then the Spartans tore the Hoosiers’ zone apart off a set-play, ending in a Travis Trice jumper.
After a Yogi Ferrell turnover with 3:42 to play, the Hoosiers looked sunk as they entered the under-4 media timeout. Their zone allowed too many good, open looks — both in the paint and from distance — over the first 16 minutes of the second half. Michigan State, as it did in the first half, continued to rip down offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities.
Down 11, this had the feelings of the Iowa game from earlier in the week. Indiana seemed destined for another double-digit loss, its third straight on its home floor. Assembly Hall reigned down some boos and some fans headed for the exits.
But Indiana looked inside itself and failed to lose without a fight. The defensive intensity ramped up a notch and the Hoosiers kept chipping away at the lead as the crowd — the majority of which stayed — kept right with them. A James Blackmon Jr. and-1 in transition brought the Hoosiers within five with 1:47 to go. Playing the foul game to stop the clock, Indiana stuck with it and pulled within three points (72-69) thanks to a Nick Zeisloft 3-pointer (5-of-8 from distance) with 27 seconds to go. After a Michigan State timeout, the Spartans inbounded the ball to Matt Costello and he was fouled with 24 seconds left. He’d miss the first free throw. And the second.
Suddenly, Indiana had the ball with a chance to tie. After a shaky possession, Blackmon Jr. appeared to be fouled as he went up for a 3-point attempt. The refs called it on the floor. Blackmon made the first free throw. And the second. One point game at 72-71. Travis Trice would make his first free throw on the subsequent IU foul and miss his second. 73-71 Michigan State. As Yogi Ferrell streaked down the floor, Denzel Valentine made a crucial error and fouled him near halfcourt to send Ferrell to the line with a chance to tie the game on a double bonus with just two second left. Valentine knew it. He put his hands in his face and bent over at the top of the key.
Indiana needed a miracle to crawl back into this one, and it looked like it had just gotten it.