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College Hoops Pick
Wisconsin won at Indiana. Michigan State won at Wisconsin. This only means that Michigan State should win at Indiana, right? Far from it. The Spartans may sit in first place in the Big 10, but they still have a lot of work to do if they want to finish there. The last time MSU got thoroughly beat was in this matchup last season. Indiana throttled the Spartans in Bloomington last year by 15 points. Draymond Green had a team-high 29 points in that game. The next highest scorer that's currently on the team was Keith Appling who had six points. Meanwhile, Cody Zeller (18 points) didn't have any problems scoring the ball.
One year later and the outlook for each of these teams are switched. Indiana has its sights set on a No. 1 NCAA Tourney seed while MSU will likely be a Top 20 team.
Indiana was the preseason No. 1 team for a reason. They have quality players at every position. They can run with anyone, but also can play the slow-it-down game and win with strength. The Hoosiers only loss in Big 10 play was to the Badgers which can be attributed to great defense. They held Indiana to a season-low 59 points while making all of the important baskets. Since that loss, Indiana hasn't really been challenged but a date with the Spartans could change that.
Michigan State is coming off another gritty win in Madison. It was the opposite of pretty, but they somehow came out with a 49-47 win. MSU only had two players with more than six points. Where you'd think they'd have an advantage down low with Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, the two only combined for four points. A big reason for their win was poor shooting on Wisconsin's part, as they hit less than 40 percent of their free throws. The Hoosiers will definitely be a much bigger threat offensively.
One player to keep an eye on in this game (and every game if you like dunks) is Branden Dawson. He's coming off the best game of his college career with 18 points and 13 rebounds against Wisconsin. He's come a long way since last season's ACL tear and is improving with every game. Dawson will be matched with someone of equal stature and athleticism in Victor Oladipo. The battle between these two phenoms will be great to watch in itself. Keith Appling is always important to the Spartans game and that was made evident in his first game as team captain against Wisconsin. He found his shot from outside on his way to 19 points. He and Gary Harris lead the Spartans in scoring, but will have to be bigger on the defensive end stopping Jordan Hulls and Kevin Ferrell from getting any kind of momentum. Nix and Payne have their work cut out for them on the defensive end against Cody Zeller and Christian Watford.
Indiana's leading scorer, Zeller, will most likely be matched up with Nix and will be force fed the ball in the post. He killed the Spartans last year and there's no reason why he can't again. If that goes to plan, Hulls and Watford should see plenty of open looks on the perimeter along with Oladipo making cuts to the hoop.
MSU only had 10 turnovers against the Badgers which is something they'll have to match in this game because if Indiana can do one thing, it's capitalizing on other team's mistakes. We know Indiana can score, the question remains whether the Spartans can keep up with them or not. If they can get the ball down low and get the Hoosiers bigs in foul trouble, they'll have a better route for upset potential. Sure, the chances are slim for another Spartans road win, but it's the Big 10 and you know both teams will come to play.
Predicted Score - Indiana 67 Michigan St 61
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