What to Expect: Michigan State at Indiana

  • 03/09/2024 11:40 am in

Indiana concludes the regular season on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall with Michigan State. The Spartans are 18-12 overall and 10-9 in Big Ten play.

Sunday’s game tips at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS:

Indiana can extend its winning streak to four games with a victory Sunday against Michigan State. The two teams have similar records but are far apart in the metrics.

The Spartans are a likely NCAA tournament team because of strong KenPom and NET rankings. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, will need to keep winning to keep their postseason chances alive.

At just 3-6 on the road in Big Ten play, the Spartans are largely viewed as a disappointment nationally after a top-10 preseason ranking in the Associated Press top 25 poll. However, with wins against Baylor and Illinois, Michigan State has shown itself capable of beating some of the nation’s best teams when things are clicking.


Michigan State snapped a three-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 53-49 win against Northwestern Wednesday night in East Lansing.

The Spartans are led by point guard Tyson Walker. Walker, a fifth-year guard who transferred from Northeastern, is in his third season under Tom Izzo. Walker has been dealing with a groin injury but is still putting together a stellar season. More of a scoring guard than a point guard at 6-foot-1, Walker leads Michigan State at 18 points per game. He’s shooting a solid 36.4 percent on 3s and 73 percent from the free throw line. He’s also third in the Big Ten in steal percentage at 3.5 and has the fourth-lowest turnover rate in the conference.

Point guard AJ Hoggard and wing Jaden Akins join Walker in the backcourt. The 6-foot-4 Hoggard is shooting just 40.4 percent from the field this season and ranks fifth in the league in assist rate at 31.1 percent. Akins, a 6-foot-4 junior, has long been viewed as a breakout candidate but has never fully taken the next step in his development. He shot 42.2 percent on 3s last season but is making just 37.3 percent from distance this season.

Michigan State’s second-best player is fifth-year senior Malik Hall, a 6-foot-8 forward. Hall is second on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game and leads the Spartans in rebounding at 5.7 per game. Hall is hitting 51.7 percent of his 3s in Big Ten play and shooting 57.1 percent on 2s, the 12th-best mark in the conference.

Sophomore guard Tre Holloman gives Izzo legitimate guard depth off the bench. The Minneapolis native makes 41.1 percent of his 3s this season and is 21st in the league in assist rate.

Beyond those five players, Michigan State has a collection of pieces still trying to figure it out.

Mady Sissoko usually starts at the five but hasn’t produced much statistically. The 6-foot-9 senior played just nine minutes against Northwestern and scored one point and pulled down four rebounds.

Izzo also has 6-foot-11 freshman Xavier Booker, 6-foot-11 sophomore Carson Cooper and 6-foot-9 sophomore Jaxon Kohler as frontcourt options. In Michigan State’s last game, the trio played a combined 32 minutes and didn’t score a point.

Freshman wing Coen Carr, who played regularly early in the season, has mostly fallen out of the rotation. Carr has scored just four points over the last four games.


All stats in the graphic below are via KenPom.com, are updated through Wednesday’s games and are for conference games only.

Michigan State is playing the slowest tempo of any Big Ten team with an average of just under 65 possessions per game, per KenPom.

The Spartans are a good 3-point shooting team, ranking third in the conference at 38.2 percent from distance. Michigan State also excels in taking care of the ball with a turnover percentage of just 13.5 in Big Ten games, second-best in the conference. However, the Spartans rank just 10th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and 14th in free throw rate (FTA/FGA).

Defensively, Michigan State is third best in the league at forcing turnovers with an opponent turnover percentage of 18. Michigan State has forced 222 turnovers in conference games, but has committed just 166, a per game differential of nearly three. The Spartans also rank fifth in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 28.2.


The KenPom projection is Michigan State by four with a 35 percent chance of an IU victory. The Hoosiers are 1-2 against Michigan State under Mike Woodson with the lone victory coming last season at Assembly Hall.

Indiana comes into Sunday’s game with momentum and having won two straight road games. It’s senior day in Bloomington, too, which is always a special afternoon at Assembly Hall.

The keys for Indiana will be taking care of the ball, matching Michigan State’s aggressiveness on the boards and using its frontcourt advantage with Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau. The Hoosiers have been playing with much better pace since the return of Xavier Johnson, another important factor in the current three-game winning streak.

A win Sunday would have the Hoosiers feeling good about themselves entering next week’s Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis.

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