What to Expect: Michigan State

  • 01/03/2014 10:08 am in

Indiana gets an opportunity to add a marquee win to its resume on Saturday afternoon as the Hoosiers welcome No. 5 Michigan State to Assembly Hall. 

The game will be broadcast at 2 p.m. on CBS and on the IU radio network (Sirius 91, XM 91):

Indiana hasn’t built a resume worthy of NCAA tournament consideration to this point.  The good news is that it can begin doing just that on Saturday.

The Hoosiers actually received a favorable Big Ten schedule this season, avoiding road games at Ohio State and Iowa and getting a shot at four top 25 teams inside Assembly Hall. The first of those four top 25 teams to come to Bloomington is Michigan State, which had been ranked No. 1 nationally before falling at home to North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last month.

While many picked the Spartans to win the Big Ten in the preseason, both Michigan State and Ohio State will likely be chasing Wisconsin thanks to the schedule makers. Bo Ryan’s Badgers do not play in East Lansing or Columbus, so the road to the Big Ten title goes through the Kohl Center.

For now, the focus for Tom Izzo is getting his first win in Bloomington since Feb. 16, 2010 and getting his team off to a 2-0 Big Ten start against a young IU team that will be hungry to make a statement.


Not only does Izzo boast one of the most talented starting units in the country, he also has one of the most experienced lineups. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are battle tested seniors to go along with junior Branden Dawson and sophomores Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris.

Appling again has the point guard reigns and is off to a fantastic start. Whether he can continue it through Big Ten play is a major factor in Michigan State’s quest to win the league. Appling has an effective field goal percentage of 57.9, which is largely driven by an improved 3-point stroke. After shooting just 32 percent from distance as a junior, Appling is up to 46.7 percent as a senior. His 15.8 points per game are third on the team and his turnover rate is down while his assist rate is up.

Joining him in the backcourt are Harris, the preseason Big Ten player of the year, and Valentine, who does a little bit of everything. It’s been a rough start to the season for Harris, who has again battled an injury and is shooting very poorly from 3-point range at 31.2 percent. The bad news for Big Ten opponents is that Harris is still averaging a team-best 17.9 points despite the shooting struggles. Given that he shot close to 50 percent on 3s in conference play last season, he’s due to start hitting.

Valentine is a solid defensive rebounder (15.5 DR%) and facilitator (23.5 assist rate) that does what Michigan State needs him to do, which is limit mistakes and do the little things. Junior guard Travis Trice is MSU’s most prominent sub as his 7.8 points per game are fifth best on the team. Trice is shooting 45.2 percent on 3s.

In the frontcourt, Payne continues to prove that he belongs in the discussion as one of the nation’s best bigs and Dawson is showing off a vastly improved game. A teammate of Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell in the World University Games over the summer in Russia, Payne is second on the team in scoring at 17.0 points per game and second in rebounding at 8.1. He continues to hit 3s at a high rate (44.4 percent) and can protect the rim (3.8 block percentage).

Dawson, a former McDonald’s All-American, appears to be finally be putting it all together. An elite rebounder, Dawson is hitting 59.2 percent of his 2s and has a team-best offensive rebounding percentage of 12.4. The backup options in the frontcourt are still a bit unsettled as freshman Gavin Schilling, sophomore Matt Costello and freshman Kenny Kaminski combined for 26 minutes of action in the Big Ten opener at Penn State.



This is yet another opportunity to reverse the turnover trend for Indiana against a team that isn’t forcing them at a rate that jumps off the page. Our old friend Justin Albers charted IU’s turnovers against Illinois and determined that 18 of the 23 were either “unforced or careless.” With three games and counting of 20 or more turnovers, this is again the No. 1 area to watch for the Hoosiers.

Where IU should be able to have an advantage is in getting to the foul line. The Spartans are ranked No. 306 nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) while Indiana is No. 10. Getting to the line 30 times was a big reason Indiana was able to keep things close in Champaign and the Hoosiers again need a big effort in that department on Saturday afternoon.

IU may also be able to do some damage on the offensive glass in spots, but Michigan State has been very solid in keeping opponents off the boards with the 33rd best defensive rebounding percentage.


The Pomeroy prediction is a very close game, with Michigan State winning 75-73 with a 58 percent win probability for the Spartans. Of Indiana’s home games with the league’s likely top four (MSU, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin), it’s the second best chance for a win, according to Pomeroy.

It’s become a broken record, but the problem is so glaring that it’s reality. Turnovers will again be the major factor in the outcome for Indiana. In three of the Hoosiers four losses, they’ve posted ridiculously high turnover rates: Connecticut (28), Syracuse (27.8) and Illinois (29). It’s tough to imagine Indiana duplicating the 3-point shooting it displayed in Champaign, so getting on the offensive glass, getting to the foul line and cutting down the mistakes whenever possible are all critical factors.

On the line for Indiana is defending home court, which is essential to this team’s NCAA tournament hopes and also avoiding its first 0-2 Big Ten start since the 2010-2011 season.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

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  • TomJameson

    Your alluding to a possible small student section, but I think they might get it up for a Mich St. I worry more about the blizzard. It’s not going to stop me (I hope), but weather has a way of stopping quite a few.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    well 15 TO’s will be an improvement but Im thinking we will need like 10 or fewer in this one. But a win anyhow we get it will be fine with me.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    Our turnover rate in the half court is better than in our transition game because we pretty much stand 30 feet from the goal and dribble until the 15 second mark to ensure we get a shot off. This seems to usually result in a bad hurried shot. I would like to see improved passing/cutting without the ball.

  • steve

    With the amount of turnovers we make I dont see how we win this game.

  • Gregory Spera

    If this whole “positivity” thing works out for me tomorrow, I may just try it out long term. No promises, though… It still feels kinda strange. Like a suit that doesn’t fit.

  • ForeverIU

    Holler if you need a nudge. LOL.

  • JohnFromBeyond

    “The Hoosiers have an effective field goal percentage of 51.5 in non-transition possessions versus 48.1 percent in transition.” I think this means that we score more often in half court, so are not always taking bad hurried shots. Our guys will learn, grow, and get better.

  • Now, that is funny,,,,…

  • ForeverIU

    One of Crean’s latest tweets: “I love our INDIANA team’s attitude and youthful enthusiasm to get ready to play. Now we need to learn how important each possession is.” Do you think he sounds so sweet in practice?

  • marcusgresham

    The only problem with that is pulling away our best rebounder. Last year when Watford was on the perimeter we still had Zeller down low.

  • Rantool

    I have seen nothing from the turnover plagued Hoosiers that would lead me to believe we have even a remote chance in this game, and if we run, gun, and turn it over, it could get ugly quick! Jeremy this would be a great game to wake up and do something, but as far as I am concerned he needs to sit till he starts bringing some fire into the game with him. And that goes for any one of these guys with the sloppy turnovers. Make a stupid turnover, sit em ! Accountability is just what is needed, but I don’t know if Coach Crean knows anything about it? The bench can be a great motivator, Coach? You sit Hollowell once and he returned next game with an 18 point performance, learn from it Coach! Also you may want to learn to work the refs a little now and then, Izzo is one of the best at it, again watch and learn! I say Michigan State by 15!

  • John

    This will only be my second Big 10 game in Assembly Hall. My first was our win against OSU in 2011. The OSU game was also the first IU game I had attended though I have been an IU fan since 1976 (at the age of 11). I have attended several games since then and so far they have won all of them.
    Hopefully that undefeated streak continues tomorrow.

  • Jeeps Johnstone

    Bring the noise John!

  • chris

    Also 1st row balcony for tomorrow…it’s time for a beat down on MSU-if we keep the turnovers under 17

  • Jeeps Johnstone

    Have some faith Steve! Look at how many turnovers we had on the road and almost won.

  • Ron Chron


  • Ron Chron

    probably not. dude you need to change your avi…

  • JethroTroll

    Just a feeling, but I like IU to notch their first marquee win of the year in this one. Sheehey’s going to be a force offensively, IU’s going to control the boards, maybe sprinkle in a lil home cooking, and IU comes away with a much needed win.
    That’s all there is to it. 🙂

  • PDXHoosier

    MSU is beatable, but I’m still not expecting much

  • Eugene Debs

    We’re going to get crushed.

  • Scooter

    Against cupcakes, no one care about these stats, they are meaningless. We will talk after 31 games and a full BIG slate.

  • Scooter

    Yeah, that avitar is spreading bad mojo

  • Scooter

    I dont know about crushed. I think we play better but they outlast us and win by 9.

  • ForeverIU

    And your negativity isn’t spreading bad mojo? I don’t want to argue with you, take a hike.

  • ForeverIU

    Jeremy is a good kid, and to me he’s playing with a lot of heart. He’s just struggling with completion, and hopefully he will get better. I trust Coach to make the best decisions as far as playing time for him. Supporting a member of our team who is struggling and has love for his team is good luck. Love our team. Go HOOSIERS.

  • ForeverIU

    Changed my avatar for a day, for good luck’s sake! Go HOOSIERS!

  • Kevin Tolliver

    So good teams don’t turn the ball over? And teams that play slow turn the ball over less because they have less possessions?

  • Kevin Tolliver

    Well those stat numbers are pretty even really, and most of our makes from our half court game have come from weak opponents. Im not against playing a half court game or a slower pace, however if all we do in our half court game is stand around and dribble waiting for the defense to fall asleep, then we should just run and press all game. You’re only making it easy on the other team by not moving on offense in the half court game.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    It will be tough for sure.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    Illinois had a terrible crowd against us, and that helped … We need all the help we can get, hoping fans get out of their seats and stay out of them today..

  • Kevin Tolliver

    Agreed if JH ever “lights off” we will be a team to be reckoned with.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    cut those TO’S down and we have a chance to pull off the upset, WS has a huge game. IU 73 MSU 71

  • Devout Hoosier

    Sorry, my point was all teams turn the ball over near the 10+ mark. High tempo teams turn it over above the average but often come out ok when you adjust for possessions.