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College Basketball Pick
Once again we have a battle of two Top 10 Big Ten teams going against each other, which seems to happen almost every week these days. The last time these schools faced was a few weeks ago at the end of January in Bloomington. It was a very fast paced game that saw Indiana come out with a 75-70 win led by Victor Oladipo who did it all for the Hoosiers with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks. The big news for Oladipo is that he sprained his ankle in Saturday's 28-point win.
His status is still unknown, but the fact that he won't be 100 percent will hurt Indiana's chances to win this game. Michigan State is currently on a run of 11 wins in their past 12 games with that one loss coming at Indiana. Last week, they destroyed in-state rivals Michigan by 23 points. If they can play anywhere close to that game, they should be able to win this game, but like Tom Izzo said, that was the best his team has played in three years.
Since their loss at Illinois, the Hoosiers haven't taken their foot off the pedal. They won convincingly at Ohio State which no one else has been able to do. In two games this past week, they had zero problems with Nebraska and Purdue. The winner of this game will have the inside track to the regular season Big 10 title and also a No. 1 NCAA tourney seed.
Michigan State has injury problems of their own as backup point guard Travis Trice has missed four straight games due to concussion issues. Freshman Denzel Valentine has stepped up big in his place averaging over 20 minutes and six boards per game. Trice was a big factor in the last game against IU as Keith Appling was in foul trouble for most of the game. Since fouling out, Appling has picked up his play, averaging over 16 points in his last five games. He had three points in 19 minutes at Indiana. Gary Harris will once again be a key player in a big contest for the Spartans. The freshman is 22 of his last 39 from behind the arc and one of the main reasons Michigan State has been rolling.
If Oladipo isn't his usual self, it will be interesting to see what route Indiana takes on the offensive end. Tyler Zeller doesn't have an advantage in this game as the Spartans have Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne in the front court. Zeller was just 2-of-7 from the field for nine points with seven rebounds in the last game. Payne went for 18 points and nine rebounds while Nix had a game-high six assists. Will Sheehey may have to play a bigger role than he's normally used to, but after getting 22 points in the last game, it looks like he's ready.
MSU's defense played outstanding against the Wolverines last week, especially on the perimeter. They'll need to bring a similar effort against the likes of Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Yogi Ferrell, all of whom can shoot and make plays on offense.
When it comes down to it, the injuries may hurt a little, but they won't decide this game. It should be another up-and-down, fast-paced game that isn't decided until late. The Spartans haven't lost in East Lansing yet and it's going to take a special effort to beat them.
Predicted Score - Michigan State 66 Indiana 65
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