What to expect: Michigan State

  • 01/18/2018 11:36 am in

Indiana will put its three-game winning streak on the line on Friday night as the Hoosiers travel to East Lansing to take on No. 9 Michigan State at the Breslin Center. The Spartans are 16-3 overall, but have lost two of their last three games.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on FS1 with Gus Johnson and Jimmy Jackson on the call:

Indiana’s 4-2 start in Big Ten play has been impressive, but things are about to get much more difficult for the Hoosiers. Friday marks the beginning of a stretch of seven games in 17 days that includes two games against Michigan State, Purdue at home and a trip to Ohio State.

Up first is a trip to Michigan State, the preseason Big Ten favorite. The Spartans, however, have stumbled of late with recent losses at Ohio State and to Michigan at home. Those setbacks have allowed Purdue and Ohio State to take a two-game lead in the loss column over the Spartans. At this point, it would be surprising if someone other than the Boilermakers win the league as Purdue plays Ohio State just once and it’s in West Lafayette.

Still, Michigan State is the league’s most talented team and probably the best chance for the Big Ten to end its national championship drought.

MEET THE SPARTANS

Michigan State boasts the league’s most talented frontcourt with two players currently projected to go in the top nine of next June’s NBA draft, according to ESPN.

Sophomore Miles Bridges, the Big Ten’s preseason player of the year, is averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game, but is shooting just 45.9 percent from the field. The Flint native is second on the Spartans in rebounding at 7.4 per game, but his defensive rebounding percentage is down significantly from last season. His 3-point shooting percentage is also down by five from his freshman campaign.

Joining Bridges in the starting lineup are McDonald’s All-American Jaren Jackson and sophomore Nick Ward. Jackson, who is regarded the best NBA prospect on the team, played at Park Tudor in Indianapolis before transferring to La Lumiere for his final prep season. He’s the son of former Georgetown standout Jaren Jackson Sr., who also played in the NBA.

The 6-foot-10 Jackson is unique because of his ability to stretch the floor (43.4 percent on 3s) and also block shots (14.4 block percentage). He’s only playing 23 minutes per game, but averages 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Indiana is going to have to find a way to spread the floor and get Jackson away from the basket if it hopes to generate any easy looks at the rim.

The 6-foot-8 Ward is a monster on the offensive glass (18.2 OR%) and does a great job of drawing fouls and finishing 2s. Ward’s free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is a ridiculous 75.9 percent, but he’s only converting at a 61.8 percent clip from the line. He’s shooting 69.4 percent on 2s.

The backups to know up front are junior Kenny Goins, freshman Xavier Tillman and redshirt senior Gavin Schilling. Michigan State’s depth up front gives them a distinct advantage over Indiana, which isn’t playing anyone taller than 6-foot-7 besides Clifton Moore.

Michigan State’s starting backcourt is sophomore Cassius Winston and sophomore Josh Langford. Winston’s assist rate of 42 percent in league games is the best in the Big Ten. He can also hit the occasional 3-pointer as he’s 10-of-24 from deep in conference play. His defense still holds him back at times, which is why senior Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn still plays 20 minutes per game as a backup.

Langford, a McDonald’s All-American, runs the floor hard and can be dangerous because of his ability to find openings and knock down 3s in transition. In the halfcourt, he cuts hard and Michigan State runs him off of a lot of screens. He’s shooting 46.2 percent on 3s. Langford isn’t much of a driver or a slasher.

The other primary backup name to know in the backcourt is junior Matt McQuaid, a solid defender and shooter. McQuaid has struggled from behind the arc in league play (22 percent), but is shooting 36.7 percent for the season.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Michigan State has given up over a point per possession just three times this season and each time, the Spartans lost.

Tom Izzo’s team is built on the strength of its elite defense and its ability to crash the offensive glass. The Spartans don’t force turnovers, but they don’t have to because of their elite shot blocking ability. Michigan State’s block percentage is 19.1 in league play and Big Ten opponents are shooting just 37.1 percent on 2s.

If Indiana is going to find success offensively, it has to effectively spread the floor and generate some clean looks at the rim as a result of sharp cutting and passing. Michigan State hasn’t been great on the offensive glass in league play, but with five days to prepare, you can be sure Izzo will have his team refocused in that facet. Limiting the Spartans to one shot per possession will go a long way in determining Indiana’s chances to pull off the upset.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Michigan State is a 16-point favorite and has a 92 percent chance of winning, according to Ken Pomeroy. The Sagarin ratings like Michigan State by 13.5.

Indiana won just once at Michigan State in the Tom Crean era and the Breslin Center is one of the league’s toughest venues for road teams. Throw in the fact that Michigan State is coming off a home loss to its primary rival and has had five days off between games and the Hoosiers could be walking into a hornet’s nest.

The Hoosiers haven’t been good in true road games this season (1-4) and this is arguably the toughest test left on the schedule. Can Indiana take advantage of a Michigan State team that has been shaky in recent weeks? Or are the Spartans, a legitimate national championship contender, ready to right the ship?

(Photo credit: Getty Images North America)

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  • Bballpop

    I expect a win…but then I always do. Play hard IU!

  • I don’t know if I expect a win but I am hoping for a good performance

  • SCHoosier

    Timing not great for a meeting with MSU (is it ever?) If Morgan just survives this game..IU will have won something. Just don’t think we have the front line to compete for a “W” in this one.

  • VOXAC30

    I expect a win as well… why because a true Homer can see a win in every game:) IUFTW

  • Ivan Renko

    looks like IU will have the upper hand in forcing TOs and getting some takeaways, as our defTO% is looking good against their TO%. let’s hope that makes for some transition buckets for our guards since it’s going to be VERY difficult to score buckets in the paint against their front line, which has been our strength so far.

    we shall see.

  • inCMitrust

    I expect not to be discouraged about the outcome just as long we compete like we have the last couple of games. We have a tough stretch of games coming up, but it’s very possible after this game we could win the next two.

  • JethroTroll

    If MSU brings their A game, IU’s in trouble regardless of what game they bring. I’m hoping MSU’s recent struggles continue and IU comes out with intensity. Then we might have a game. Still a long shot though.

  • inLinE6

    We have Archie and Juwan, so don’t write it off yet. It’s basically a guaranteed loss in the past decade though, regardless how talented we were.

  • Ms hoosier

    Well… I honestly don’t think that the ref’s will give us much of a chance!! Hope I’m wrong and very much hopeing IU has their best game of the year and pulls out a victory!! Go Hoosiers!!

  • Ivan Renko

    I remember the almost magical 2012-2013 season when we went into the breslin center and beat a top 5 MSU team!

  • Colt

    Hopefully the turnover bug continues to bite them. I have no doubt that Izzo has been busting their butts in practice. IU will have to play really well to win.

  • mharv2631

    So your sayin’ there’s a chance!

  • Kendall Polston

    We all know what happened last time Gus Johnson called an IU game…

  • TomJameson

    Without even looking (so I could be wrong), but I’d bet that half of Bridges point average comes from free-throws. Yeah, an official favorite for sure.

    JW will be sitting within 2 minutes, and probably 1 more starter. Book it!

  • Ms hoosier

    Couldn’t agree with you more!!

  • dennis powell

    Keep playing hard like the last couple games and I’ll be happy. Win or lose. I love good hard play.

  • CAK76

    I expect:
    1. Intense rebounding effort from our senior guards
    2. McSwain to accumulate 4 fouls in the first half terrorizing MSU
    3. Poor perimeter shooting
    4. A double/double from JM
    5. Toughness that gives us a shot at a win with 4:30 left in the game

  • TomEke

    Are you referencing the Victor Oladipo half court shot?

  • Jethro Jones

    I predict a 25 point lead and we see Priller play 2-3 minutes at the end

  • Tommy Morrsion

    Make a bold prediction.

  • IUBizmark

    I expect MSU to come out RUNNING on fast breaks to start the game as they did against Duke. They’ll try to rack up a quick 7-10 point lead that way and also discourage us from offensive rebounding so hard. Depending on how we weather that storm, it’ll be a half court game after that, which might allow us to creep back into it if we hit our shots. Go Hoosiers! This win is entirely possible if the defense is stout and we hit a few 3’s.

  • hardly

    I think he’s saying we’ve used our 1 win in every 20 years at Breslin. Can’t wait until 2032..will be a great game.

  • Kevin

    I expect Clifton Moore may get some minutes due to foul troubles. I hope he shows progress, because I love his potential.
    If Hoosiers limit TO’s, I like their chances…

  • Kevin

    Bingo. Some easy transition buckets would loosen the rims, maybe.
    I think FT line is an area where Hoosiers have to at least stay close. Oh, and limit off. rebound/2nd chance points. And don’t let them get hot from 3……I’m glad I’m not coaching…

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I just don’t get why one becomes an internet troll. Do you really have nothing better to do than to troll an IU basketball website? That seems A.) Boring and B.) a headache to constantly have to check new posts to make dumb comments on. I’ve read your posts in other articles on this site. I’m just baffled.

  • pbhuff

    MSU has clearly been in a funk their last several games. Its a matter of whether or not they have broken out of it. Still in a funk and IU has a chance. If they have fixed things, IU MIGHT have a chance to hang around for the first 30 min

  • It would be nice if they worked on their outside game over the last few days. Shots gotta fall tonight if they’re going to hang with MSU. This would be a huge win, but I just want to see a good game. Lady Luck, how you doing tonight?

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    That was a rough first half for IU. I hope Juwan is ok.

  • GaHoosier

    Yikes!!!

    I can’t even stomach watching the second half.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Clyde, well??? Rough 1st half.