What to Expect: Michigan State

  • 03/06/2015 12:38 pm in

Indiana wraps up the regular season on Saturday afternoon in Assembly Hall when Michigan State comes to Assembly Hall. The Spartans are 20-10 overall and 11-6 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 12 p.m. ET with Bob Wischusen and Dan Dakich on the call:

On Jan. 22, Indiana was riding high coming off a 89-70 win over Maryland. The Hoosiers were 15-4 overall, 5-1 in the Big Ten with what appeared to be a favorable schedule down the stretch. At the time, this team looked like a virtual lock to make the NCAA tournament.

Fast forward to March 3 and six Indiana players along with Tom Crean came into the Assembly Hall press room with little explanation for what had just transpired on Branch McCracken Court. The Hoosiers, desperately in need of a solid performance following a loss at Northwestern, laid an egg in a 77-63 loss to Iowa.

The NCAA tournament was no longer a certainty, but in the days following the loss, athletics director Fred Glass came out with a public vote of confidence in Crean as the coach.

The current story surrounding IU basketball has shifted off the court, but there are still games to be played and a potential bid to snag for the NCAA tournament if the Hoosiers can somehow bounce back. The next chance to pick up win No. 20 comes against Michigan State, who has already locked up a NCAA bid, but will be looking to play spoiler on an IU season that is clearly at a crossroads. There’s also a bit of recruiting intrigue tomorrow as Thomas Bryant is expected on campus.

MEET THE SPARTANS (Note: All stats are for conference games only)

The Spartans have overcome some significant departures from last season to post another finish in the top half of the league, but the road hasn’t been easy. Izzo’s team has some solid wins in conference, but a head scratching loss to Texas Southern along with three conference losses in the Breslin Center have set the resume back a bit. Still, this is a team that ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Senior Branden Dawson, who came to East Lansing as a McDonald’s All-American, is a tough matchup because of his athleticism and rebounding ability in the frontcourt. He’s questionable for Saturday after being hit in the head in Wednesday’s win over Purdue. If he’s able to go, Indiana will have the task of stopping a player who ranks in the top three in the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He’s finishing 58 percent of his 2s in Big Ten games, but shooting just 49 percent from the free throw line.

D.J. Valentine, Brynn Forbes and Travis Trice form a three-man backcourt that can do damage from distance. Forbes is 44.1 percent on 3s in Big Ten play, Valentine is at 38.8 percent and Trice is at 36.2 percent. Trice is the team’s leading scorer in Big Ten play at 15.8 per game, Valentine is second at 15 a game and Forbes averages 8.4. Trice leads the Big Ten in assist rate at 34 percent.

The five position remains a platoon with sophomore Gavin Schilling as the starter and junior Matt Costello as the backup. Costello is actually logging more minutes, but both rank in the top six in the league in offensive rebounding percentage. Costello is finishing 57.3 percent of his 2s in league play and Schilling is finishing close to 51 percent of his 2s.

The other three Spartans who will see time are freshman Marvin Clark, a former IU recruiting target, who is making just 29.4 percent of his 3s in Big Ten play. His high school teammate, freshman point guard Lourawls Nairn, who starts at point guard and was also recruited by Indiana, is a pure distributor who really struggles to score (42.6 effective field goal percentage). Sophomore guard Alvin Ellis III plays sparingly and has the lowest effective field goal percentage in the rotation at 36.8.



A couple of brief thoughts on the numbers above: Michigan State presents a significant challenge on the boards for Indiana. The Spartans rank in the top three in the league in both defensive and offensive rebounding percentage and the Hoosiers have been susceptible on the defensive glass in many of their losses.

Michigan State is also very solid offensively with a top five offense overall and the league’s third best shooting team. Indiana struggled to its worst offensive performance of the season in the first meeting between these teams in East Lansing and the Hoosiers must be able to fight through the physicality of the Spartans on the perimeter and not settle exclusively from the perimeter.


The Pomeroy ratings have this contest as basically even, with Michigan State installed as a one-point favorite and a 49 percent chance for an IU win. Sagarin favors the Spartans by just a half of a point.

Indiana’s overall body of work this season in Assembly Hall is still strong, but the Hoosiers are coming off two straight losses in front of the home fans and arguably their shakiest performance of the season against Iowa. This game obviously means plenty in terms of IU’s NCAA tournament picture as a win would likely solidify a bid and a loss would put a huge emphasis on next week’s Big Ten tournament in Chicago.

A season that started out with turbulence and stabilized in the middle now appears to be at a crossroads of sorts with the final regular season game as the fork in the road. Win and Indiana should feel good about its NCAA tournament chances. A loss, which would be the eighth in the final 12 for the Hoosiers, likely puts this group squarely on the bubble with an interesting eight days to go before Selection Sunday.

(Photo credit: Eric Francis/Getty Images North America)

Filed to:

  • oldiugymnast

    Great to have a fan wishing for us to lose. You people are an embarrassment.

  • oldiugymnast

    Injured, injured, not big enough and too slow right now.

  • Twenty02

    Where did i say anything about wishing we lost? I didn’t.

    Crean has decided he’s done here, regardless of what happens.

  • SeeingRed

    If they come out and scrap, fight like hell, get on the floor, win the 50-50 balls — I will be very disappointed if there are boos … win or lose. Fans should never boo a hustling team.

  • IUBizmark

    I watched MSU play Purdue the other night and they battled HARD. They even suffered a major setback when they lost Dawson and still finished off Purdue. I had almost forgotten what it was like to watch a team be able to overcome the odds and win a tough game despite significant adversity.

    Here’s hoping IU can battle tough and pull out a win.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Hahaha. Have to throw in the terrible humor when I have the opportunity.

  • Drew

    That is a rumor with unsubstantiated claims.

  • zoldirtybird

    I’m guessing you’re referring to IU’s “bigs.” Holt’s injured huh? Hadn’t heard that. I guess we’ll see if he plays. Thought Hartman was coming back… Not sure how you’re determining Burton is too slow. Maybe you are at practice with a stopwatch. He’s looked great in the few minutes he’s been in the game.

  • IUBizmark

    How can you say you wouldn’t boo, but you can’t understand why the AD voices confidence? The AD shouldn’t “boo” either. It’s unhelpful, thus he should express confidence in Crean. No one should be booing.

  • IUBizmark

    To me it’s obvious the players dislike Crean. They fold at the end of the season and don’t bother to stick around. If players loved the guy, turnover would be much lower.

  • Can’t say I disagree. I admit I’m not confident, but I’d sure love to be proven wrong.

  • That’s an interesting take, and part of an adjustment that should have been made earlier. Hanner played pretty big at times, too.

  • Ben thorne

    What makes this funny is how true it is…..

  • Okay, honest question, and NOT meant to rile anyone up: I was listening to a bit of the players’ thoughts on the MSU game. Not a lot of time, but pretty much right at the beginning Yogi is talking about Dawson and the interviewer mentions that Dawson is questionable. Yogi knew nothing about this.

    Shouldn’t Yogi be well aware of this? Seems like the team would be preparing for Dawson playing, but also for MSU’s game plan if he doesn’t play. Or am I expecting too much for game preparation? Seriously, I don’t know, which is why I’m asking.

  • SCHoosier

    What to expect: No quarter from Izzo irregardless of his personal feelings for TC. Also expect Valentine and Trice to shoot often and everywhere. When they are on..they can carry a team. Costello was tough against PU and could dominate IU inside. Individual match-ups are awful for IU..so not sure what defense we will “attempt to play. Need the crowd..need to limit TO’s and need some shooting luck. Let’s hope MSU is resting on its just secured 4th seed in the B-10 post season and won’t be at the top of their game. IU on the other hand..must be. This is the same team that CBS called “the most fun team in college b-ball to watch” and the same coach that was touted 6 weeks ago as a potential “Coach of the Year candidate. IU must player harder and smarter than it did against NW and Iowa.Let’s all pull together for a win!

  • Ben thorne

    Just curious…. Would you rather have a packed house of silent fans showing no emotion? Then we’d complain that there is no passion for the team and the game right?

  • I think Dawson is “questionable,” but still likely to play. Not a bad idea to practice as if he’ll be there.

  • alwaysiufan

    Yes seriously i do. Give me one example where ctc made an average coaching decision during a game. Just one sir.

  • Ole Man

    Spoken like a true Hoosier!

  • SCHoosier

    dream on man.

  • I won’t flatter myself that the players have time or inclination to read my thoughts here. But surely those attending the games have an impact. The booing really is atrocious and should NOT happen tomorrow no matter how anyone feels about CTC or Glass.

  • SCHoosier

    The rolling eye deal you referred to was by Troy. It was the opposing team that made him wait while the coach brought in a new player… before he as handed the ball to shoot at FT..Look at the tape. exactly what happened. Tory’s eye rolling h ad to do with refs allowing a late sub.. delaying his FT (and letting him cool off) not because Crean or another IU player did anything. Geez…if fans are concerned about “eye rolls” all is truly lost to issues of insignificance.

  • SCHoosier

    Twit???..just guessin here:) Ok delete me.

  • iugradmark

    There is a difference between not booing and an AD coming out in local and national press saying he is fine with Crean’s performance. This to me means he is not interested in hearing from many fans, donors, and supporters about the state of the program. Why wouldn’t you just say that Crean is the coach and the season is still playing out and you don’t make mid season assessments or something. By fully supporting the performance you are basically telling a segment of the fans that they don’t matter and I don’t see the benefit in doing this. Keep your powder dry as they say. If IU wins this weekend and gets in the tournament, you probably buy some time. If they continue to spiral down, you can take that into consideration and haven’t already said how great the body of work is and he is your man when you have to fire him.

  • Bk39

    They would prefer robots completely under their control. It’s why they espouse censorship so adamantly.

  • Twenty02

    Everything under these circumstances are rumors…until they are not.

    Way, way too much smoke around this one, for 48+hours now, which is not being extinguished by those who could do so.

    All I stated is that I hope the fans tomorrow give Crean support and thanks. I very much appreciate the work he has done here.

    I also personally believe 100%, that he will resign as HC at the conclusion of the season.

  • domtakis

    The Hoosiers have been given the chance to earn their way into the NCAA with their last two league games. Both teams, Iowa and Mich. St are more complete teams on paper but the home court advantage evens things out. Tuesday’s game was a nightmare but we still have a chance to right the ship tomorrow. In my mind if they lose this one they do not deserve to go, it is all about execution at this time of the year and the team has to get back to doing what they were successful at and hit shots and play with some fire and effort on both sides of the ball, there is no more margin for error and the 75 team will be in the building, for the sake of pride they need to leave it all on the court. Crean better be stressing this point, find a way and get it done! Go Hoosiers!!

  • Drew

    It may very well be his last game as a head coach. I do not know, but I have heard of the rumors you are speaking of, and they have know reliability as of yet, so I’m refraining from bringing it up.

  • zoldirtybird

    I definitely agree. Hanner has done his best all season and showed flashes of being a true rim protector. It just seems like he can be so much more aggressive defensively when he has some size behind him to help rebound and defend on the weak side.

  • Drew

    Also are you newer to the site? If so, welcome aboard.

  • zoldirtybird

    I’m not sure I follow your comment. Are you saying that the people who are booing have their heads up their a$$? Or maybe their heads are in the sand?? In general it seems like you’re putting down the people who chose to voice a negative opinion. If this is the case, I’d like to hear a lucid basketball argument defending the rigid coaching strategy that’s been employed over this season. Anybody who plays/has played basketball can see the problems with the coaching decisions. This team is talented and expectations should be high.

  • ForeverIU

    Thanks for finally explaining the “eye roll” thingy. Oh the urban legends floating around this site.

  • ForeverIU

    Lol, “appearing to miss a free throw so they stay in longer.” Delusional but funny.

  • ForeverIU

    Because he probably really is two people. I feel sorry for both of them.

  • ForeverIU

    That’s why I don’t think criticizing Crean necessarily bothers the players. If anything, it probably empowers them.


    Was never a Div 1 coach, but I’ve made enough decisions from the chair next to the scorer’s table to know that the screener has been open as he rolls to the basket many, many times this year without us seemingly even thinking about making the pass. With the exception of the Nebraska game I can count on my fingers how many times that kind of pass has been attempted this season, and the hell of it is that on those rare occasions it has been made it almost always netted us a bucket or something else positive. After the Nebraska game I kept telling myself that with all the success we had with it in that game it would start being a staple in our offense. Needless to say I have went from saying that to saying,” why in the hell won’t they pass the ball to the screener as he rolls to the basket

    I’m not saying that Crean should coach exactly the way that I think he should, but there just seems to be a real need to try something besides what is getting us killed as of late. For whatever reason there seems to be some real resistance to playing a second big that doesn’t shoot a decent percentage from behind the arc. There seems to be the same kind of resistance to making the guards learn how to correctly make the pass to the screener as he rolls to the basket and then making sure that they actually make the pass during the game. If Crean just can’t bring himself to play two bigs at the same time because he wants the floor spread out it seems to me that that would make the pass to the screener, not only easier, but also more important. With a specific recruit being on hand tomorrow showing that we can AND will make that kind of pass would not go unnoticed by that certain recruit I’m sure. Do it Tom, we/you need to do every single thing we can to sway him.

    Pregame speech over, now get out there and act like you feel like you have something to make up for after the last outing.

  • beer30

    Compared to booing the team? Yes.

  • beer30

    Don’t defend the coaching strategy nor do I defend the booing.

  • Ben thorne


  • eville87

    As i said in my last post as much as I don’t agree with our coaches decisions I can’t root against them. It’s Indiana the team I’ve grown up with for 29 years. Good or bad we watch cause there my team. A true fan watches if there good or not. Now that being said I can’t understand the subs the lack of defensive effort. The lack of a post player. The nonsense we get sold at press conferences. But he is all we have for right now. We are actually capable of winning a couple of games if we shoot the 3 ball well.

  • yimyames

    I don’t know, I just scored 10th row tickets vs MSU for the last game of the regular season for face value. I’m ecstatic but that is not a good sign that the hall will be full.

  • INUnivHoosier

    You’re kinda ruining the good juju I’m trying to establish, yim. Maybe you just experienced a bit of luck.

  • jfelten

    IU has fewer turnovers on players than Purdue and UofL. IU is
    about on par with many of the big ten schools.
    It is just not the same game it was 30 years ago when BB players would stay on the same campus for four years. IU
    has had more player turnover than what I like to see, but IU is on par with most other schools in this area. CTC has
    faults, but don’t beat on him for player turnover. This is now the norm in NCAA basketball (unfortunately).

  • IUBizmark

    So what if Glass says what you said. Then recruits see that and decide not to visit. You’re okay knowing that?

    I’m just saying, there’s no benefit for your boss or the AD saying anything other than confident things about your coach. So what if the fans cry that they’re not being heard. They’ll still be here. If recruits catch wind of that, and they chose not to come, that makes the coach’s job even harder. That’s not fair and not good for anyone.

  • IUBizmark

    Are Purdue and UofL measuring sticks for this?

    IU is “about” on par with many big ten schools? This is some squishy language. If you did the research, post it. Do other schools over-sign like IU too?

  • Ole Man

    LOL! Good guess; and close!

  • iugradmark

    Some fans feel like every year is the “help is on the way” excuse. Just more time, just another round of recruits, wait until the movement gets here. We have failed drug tests this year, alcohol related accidents, poor performance at the end of the year again with the possibility of missing the NCAA for the second year in a row. We are probably the poorest defensive team in IU history and one of the poorest defensive teams in the whole NCAA. Fans are not coming, not making noise, and booing in the stands and yet your AD is saying this is the guy for the job. Yes some fans will want to be heard and if the AD is not listening they will probably boo at the game. No I wouldn’t do it but as I said, I can understand it.

  • IUBizmark

    You didn’t answer my question.

    And I also question your intelligence if you think the AD is so out of touch with the litany of issues you mentioned that he needs fans to boo at the game to realize there is a coaching problem. Do you really believe he thinks Tom is the best coach in basketball or the perfect coach for IU? Obviously Glass is a smart guy and he knows about all of Tom’s shortcomings…more than you or I know for sure. Anyone who boos at the game isn’t helping, they’re hurting IU basketball. The AD can handle it.

    Finally, if you want to fire Fred Glass, you’re again shortsighted. He’s got IU athletics back in the black and he’s boosted football attendance. He’s a great AD. Has he made some mistakes? Yes, but to fire him would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak.

  • iugradmark

    I don’t attack people personally. I don’t know what Glass believes. I haven’t called for his departure. My comments were answering your earlier question as to why I wouldn’t boo but understand those that do. Regardless of what Glass believes or knows I am only commenting on what he chose to do which is go on a national sports forum and pledge his support for the coach and in a local interview insult fans by telling them to step away from the razor blades. So I can understand why fans might not think he is listening and some may choose to be vocal about it. You have a different opinion and that is fine. I make no judgement about your intelligence or judge you for what you believe. For me things are not always black or white and I would attempt to hear other opinions before being dismissive.

  • Barancy Peloma

    False. The fans nee added to make a stand against clappy. This stuff hurts in the short run but, it is for the best. The team is not good at all. They live/ die by 3’s and wild drives to the rim.
    Shut down clappy’s fast break and all he has left is the 3-man weave.
    He is an awful coach and the sooner he is gone- the better off the program is in the long run.