(Photo Credit: MSUSpartans.com)
As the Hoosiers are in the midst of a 7 consecutive loss skid, the Big Ten gauntlet provides no respite as IU travels north to take on #6 Michigan State on Saturday in raucous East Lansing.
While the Hoosiers would really appreciate time to fly under the radar, ESPN decided to step in and select East Lansing for the site of Saturday’s College Gameday. Two historic programs with two significantly different trajectories for this season.
Indiana is coming off another disappointing performance in their loss to Rutgers which dropped the Hoosiers to a tie for 10th place in the conference. The same issues continue to plague IU and hinder the team’s performance. Yet again, against Rutgers, the team continued to struggle shooting the three ball (26.1% for the game) and only got 2 points from the bench.
Things will not get any easier for the offense, as in Michigan State they face the 7th most efficient defense in all of college basketball.
Likewise, the Spartans are also coming off of a disappointing loss. Michigan State struggled mightily in the first-half against Purdue, only scoring 19 points at the break. MSU was able to right the ship but the 18-point early deficit was just too much to overcome. Still, the Spartans are 18-3 (9-1 in conference play) and are currently 3rd in the KenPom rankings.
After two non-conference losses, including an understandable Kansas loss on opening day and a road loss to Louisville in the Yum Center, Tom Izzo has gotten the team back on track as they tie for the lead in the Big Ten.
Unfortunately, Michigan State received unfortunate news this week as word broke that Joshua Langford will officially miss the remainder of the season due to a foot injury. MSU’s Langford has not played since the end of December but was one of the team’s best scorers, averaging 15 points per game and shooting 40.3% from three. Despite his loss, Michigan State is still extremely potent and has won 7 of 8 since his injury.
Both teams will surely be motivated to avenge their recent losses and get back on track.
Meet the Spartans
- Miles Bridges – 6’7” / 225 lbs / Guard-Forward – Flint, MI. The crowning recruit for the 2016 class for Tom Izzo was drafted 12th overall in the 2018 NBA draft.
- Jaren Jackson – 6’11” / 242 lbs / Forward – Carmel, IN. Jackson was a top 10 recruit in the 2017 and also got drafted in the 2018 draft by the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Gavin Schilling – 6’1” / 170 lbs / Guard – Munich, Germany. Graduated and currently plays on a German team in the Euroleague.
- Lourawls (Tum Tum) Nairn Jr. – 5’10” / 175 lbs / Guard – Nassau, Bahamas. A key cog in Tom Izzo’s recent teams that graduated. He has been key in the development in current point guard Cassius Winston.
- Ben Carter – 6’9” / 235 lbs / Forward – Las Vegas, NV. The high IQ forward graduated and now plays in Tel Aviv, Israel.
- Cassius Winston – 6’1” / 185 lbs / Guard / Junior – Detroit, MI. The point guard from Detroit does so much for the team and has been referred to as one of the biggests threats behind the arc. Winston scored a game high 23 points in their loss at Mackey Arena. He leads the team (fifth in the Big Ten) in points per game and leads the conference in assists per game.
- Nick Ward – 6’9” / 245 lbs / Forward /Junior – Gahanna, OH. Tom Izzo’s power in the paint has been having the best numbers of his career at Michigan State. He is averaging 15.6 points per game which is second best on the team.
- Kenny Goins – 6’7” / 230 lbs / Forward / RS Senior – Troy, MI. Out of a starting five of all upperclassmen, Kenny Goins has the most experience as a fifth year senior. He leads the team with 9.4 boards per game and is also tied for second most assists per game.
- Matt McQuaid – 6’5” / 200 lbs / Guard / Senior – Duncanville, TX. With the loss of guard Joshua Langford, Matt McQuaid has been promoted to the starting role. He played 37 minutes in the match up against Purdue and was the only other person to score in double digits.
- Kyle Ahrens – 6’7” / 210 lbs / Guard-Forward / RS Junior – Versailles, OH. Ahrens who has been recently having back injuries is expected to return against the Hoosiers on Saturday. The team has yet to confirm his availability, but given the loss of Langford, Ahrens’ return is all the more important for the Spartans.
- Xavier Tillman – 6’8” / 245 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Grand Rapids, MI. Xavier Tillman completes the other half of the muscle-duo of Ward and Tillman. Tillman and Ward typically split games down the middle in terms of minutes. He is averaging an almost-double-double at 8 points and 7 rebounds per game.
- Aaron Henry – 6’6” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Indianapolis, IN. Former Indiana recruit eventually signed with Michigan State after Indiana picked up fellow in-state forward Damezi Anderson. Aaron Henry has played impressively for Tom Izzo and earned a starting role as a freshman while Kyle Ahrens was out.
- Conner George – 6’4” / 200 lbs / Guard / RS Junior – Okemos, MI.
- Foster Loyer – 6’0” / 170 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Clarkston, MI.
- Marcus Bingham Jr. – 6’11” / 235 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Grand Rapids, MI.
- Gabe Brown – 6’7” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Ypsilanti, MI.
- Thomas Kithier – 6’8” / 225 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Clarkston, MI.
- Jack Hoiberg – 5’11” / 175 lbs / Guard / RS Freshman – Burr Ridge, IL.
- Joshua Langford – 6’5” / 210 lbs / Guard / Junior – Huntsville, AL. Langford suffered a left ankle injury and will not be available for the 2018-2019 remaining season.
As noted earlier, the biggest news came from Michigan State’s announcement that junior Joshua Langford will be unavailable for the remainder of the 2018-2019 season with a left foot injury. The guard was averaging a career high 15.0 points per game in a relatively small sample set.
Starter Kyle Ahrens is expected to return against Indiana; however, the situation is still unfolding. The guard-forward has been dealing with back issues and has been an important component in managing the production loss of Langford.
Race Thompson has been cleared for contact and has recently been upgraded to available. Race Thompson notably did not travel with the team on Wednesday to face Rutgers.
Devonte Green is expected to be unavailable after being suspended indefinitely for “not meeting the standards expected of members of the program.”
De’Ron Davis traveled with the team to Rutgers, but he was not dressed and did not warm up with the team. While other injured players did not travel with the team to Rutgers, De’Ron did make the trip which may signal that Archie Miller could use him in desperation situations. The plan is to look for minutes from Clifton Moore and Jake Forrester for now.
Jerome Hunter has declared his intention to sit out the rest of the year as a redshirt. Hunter suffered a leg injury which required surgery and has not seen the floor this season.
What to Watch for:
- Phinisee bounce back. Robert Phinisee did not have one of his better games in Piscataway on Wednesday. As a freshman the expectation is that you will have off nights; however, Archie Miller needs his true point guard back in game shape. He will surely get a portion of the responsibility to guard Cassius Winston. Holding Geo Baker to just 12 points, Phinisee can do wonders for the Hoosiers if he is able to somewhat contain Winston on Saturday.
- Al Durham the energizer. Durham has been one of the silver linings in the black cloud above this Indiana team at the moment. He has played 33 minutes or more in each of the last 3 games and has broken the seal for Indiana on multiple occasions. In his post game interview against Rutgers, you can easily tell that he is putting everything has on the court each night.
- Big men, big problems. Indiana has tall players, but that’s not quite the same as big players. Realistically speaking, Juwan Morgan is Indiana’s biggest player, but he’s only 6’8″ at 232 pounds. Nick Ward and Xavier Tillman both have 15 pounds on Juwan. Cassius Winston may be the best scorer, but we’ve learned from Indiana’s match up against Northwestern’s Pardon, Arkansas’ Gafford, and.. well …all of Duke, IU is not equipped to handle bigs that are focal points of the offense.
- Game day hyped crowd. Indiana can’t catch a break at all. With odds already against them significantly, ESPN decides to give the Breslin Center another reason to get up on Saturday. Indiana is 1-21 in the last 22 match ups in East Lansing with the only win coming from the 2013 Hoosiers, which included the likes of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.
- Understand the odds but look ahead to the future. Finally, this last away game in an absolutely brutal 8-game stretch will conclude. Now this game has been circled from day one as a loss, so it is important to understand what we are up against. But looking ahead, the Hoosiers will get to play the next 5 of 7 at home.
How to Watch
|Date||Saturday, February 2nd|
|Time||6:00 PM EST|