College Basketball Pick
This is the only time these teams play this year, which is unfortunate, and that only makes getting this win more important. Indiana is in one its toughest stretches of the season, but this is actually its only road contest in a Four-Game period. The last time the Hoosiers travelled, they lost unexpectedly at Penn State. OUtside of that solid Michigan win that was highlighted by a 25-0 run in the first half, they haven’t looked all that great on the road, also with a loss to Wisconsin.
But it’s not like Michigan State has been unstoppable at home this year. The Spartans lost two straight home Games a month ago against Iowa and Nebraska. Then again, that was also when Denzel Valentine was coming back into the squad from injury. In their other home Conference Games, MSU won two by at least 25 points and took down Maryland in the other.
One thing we can count on from this Game is that there’s going to be a good amount of points and a lot of running as both teams love to get up and down the floor. But most of the advantages go to the home team in this one, especially with the way Michigan State has been playing, even though the Spartans are coming off a loss at Purdue.
Indiana’s two best players, Yogi Ferrell and Thomas Bryant, will need to be on their Games to keep this one in striking range. The Spartans have the size in guys like Matt Costello and Gavin SChilling to deal with Bryant, while Eron Harris has become MSU’s lockdown defensive guy as of late. Of course, they can be beat, though. Without Tum Tum Nairn, the Spartans still struggle against opposing team’s point guards and Ferrell needs to capitalize on that. Indiana will need some kind of bench production out of Max Beilfeldt or Nick Zeisloft as well, or have starters Troy Williams or Robert Johnson come through.
The problem is that Michigan State has a great field goal percentage defense and a lot of that is because of freshman Deyonta Davis, who gives most power forwards problems with his length. And then there’s Denzel Valentine, who’s also an underrated defender and he actually leads the Spartans in steals per Game.
The other end is where Indiana has to show up because the Spartans have been unfathomable from deep as of late hitting a ridiculous 58 of 108 shots in the last Four Games. And that includes going 11-of-28 in the loss to Purdue after starting 2-of-10 from 3. Valentine does pretty much everything on the offensive end with 18.6 points, 7.9 boards and 6.7 assists per Game. But it’s Bryn Forbes that stretches the floor for the Spartans as he’s hitting 50% of his threes. Harris is a playmaker on the offensive end as well, but only when needed.
In addition to being a deadly team from deep, the Spartans can also go down low to Matt Costello, who’s averaging a double-double in Conference play and has been a catalyst for recent big wins. Davis is also no slouch due to his lengthy build.
The Hoosiers will need a flawless overall performance to win this Game. Winning in East LAnsing would be huge for them, but stopping this Spartan team may be too much, especially with MSU coming off a tough overtime loss. Considering Indiana has a better Conference record, don’t expect Michigan State to let its foot off the pedal.