Neither Michigan State nor Indiana is feeling good about itself, but ESPN’s College GameDay will be in East LAnsing either way. The Hoosiers enter this matchup having lost their last seven, most recently falling to Rutgers. MSU lost at Purdue last weekend, but the more relevant news is that Joshua LAngford (15.0 ppg) is out for the rest of the season. He’s missed the last eight Games, but his absence definitely degrades the Spartans outlook come March, though probably not in this Game.
Something has to change for Indiana and it’s hard to see that happening here considering what happened on Wednesday. The Hoosiers don’t do many things well outside of drawing fouls on the offensive end. They rate near the bottom of the charts in a lot of categories and are shooting just 25 percent from three in Conference play, which won’t work against MSU’s perimeter defense. The Hoosiers may have two of the Big Ten’s best players in Romeo LAngford (17.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Juwan Morgan (16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg), but those two haven’t been getting enough help to win Games. Either that or LAngford and Morgan need to Scorefive more points per Game, each. No one else can be relied on for consistent offense, whether that’s third-leading scorer Justin Smith (8.7 ppg) or the guard combo of Rob Phinisee and Aljami Durham.
It’s hard to see that working against an MSU team that ranks tops in the Conference in terms of effective FG% on both ends of the floor. The Spartans don’t give up easy buckets and that’s not a recipe for a team that only has two guys that can score. They’ll likely throw a mix of Aaron Henry and Matt McQuaid on LAngford, while Nick Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman deal with Morgan.
It doesn’t help that Indiana’s defense hasn’t been any better than its offense. Cassius Winston has been wrecking opponents with 18.5 points and 7.3 assists per Game, and it’s hard to see the freshman Phinisee having enough to stop him. It’s also doubtful that anyone on Indiana can stop Ward down low since Morgan gives up a few pounds and isn’t the best post defender. Even if one of those two guys is held in check, the Spartans still have other options, though Winston is rarely stopped. Ward didn’t Scorea few Games ago because of foul trouble, yet MSU still beat Maryland by 14 points. Whether it’s McQuaid knocking down shots, Henry carving through the defense or Goins and Tillman doing the dirty work down low, the Spartans will get buckets.
That’s the main difference between these two teams. Michigan State’s role players are better shooters and have more experience and that’s everything in college basketball. The Spartans had their undefeated Big Ten covering streak broken last Game against Purdue and this one may be hard to cover if Indiana shows up. Then again, the Hoosiers recently lost by 23 points at home to Michigan and let Rutgers go on a 20-0 run in Wednesday’s loss.
Our Pick – Mich St -14.5