Indiana stays home for their second match-up with the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans this Saturday.

The Hoosiers upset the Spartans a month ago when they last met in East Lansing, MI.

Archie Miller and Co. have put together one of the more perplexing teams in the nation. They have the ability to win and be competitive against any opponent top to bottom, and have been one of the most unlucky teams in the nation, currently ranked 270 of 353 teams based on luck.

Some other interesting stats that show everyone how the Hoosiers stand this season:

  • Free Throws Made %: 65.4% (327th in nation)
  • Opponent Free Throws Made %: 62.4% (1st in nation)
  • Overall Strength of Schedule: 8th in the nation
  • 3 Point Made %: 26.6% (323rd and last in conference)

It is still not known how Archie has developed the most intimidating free throw defense in the nation, but what is known is that the Spartans acknowledge that fact after their last meeting.

Indiana is just coming off another Quadrant 1 win (depending on where Butler ends up in the final NET rankings, it could be their 5th or 6th of the season) and first home victory in nearly two months. This hard-fought game was another crucial victory for the Hoosiers and a glimpse at how far this team has come over the season.

We have finally started to consistently look like a team that is used to playing together and know how to take advantage of their strengths. One under-utilized strength the Hoosiers are starting to utilize is Romeo. He is starting to finally be more front and center much like the MVP of the team should be – taking 17 shots and making 8 for a team high of 22 points against Wisconsin.

Michigan State has started to hit the injury bug this point in the season losing both Josh Langford and Nick Ward – likely both for the rest of the season. These injuries are devastating for the Spartans; however, they have not lost since their three game skid against Purdue, Indiana and Illinois early this month.

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Now, having won 5 in a row, the Spartans are hitting their traditional late season stride with victories against teams like Wisconsin and Michigan both away from home. For this reason and their still deep roster, they are heavy favorites in their match-up with the Hoosiers this Saturday with an 80.6% chance of winning according to ESPN’s BPI. A very lopsided advantage especially against a team that beat you earlier in the season when you were at home and with a more stacked roster. KenPom is not much different with a 77% chance of a MSU victory.

Cassius Winston has been a phenom for the Spartans and has stepped up more into the national spotlight as of late. Last game, he led the Spartans to a victory against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, MI with 27 points, 8 assists. He continues to be in the conversation for MVP for his top level play. It will be a nearly insurmountable task to leapfrog ahead of R.J. Barrett or Zion, but to be at least in the conversation says a lot on how good he is for the Spartans. In the last game against the Hoosiers, he scored 26 points despite the loss.

Indiana and Michigan State will surely bring an interesting match-up between two historic teams with one fighting for a top-tier seed and the other fighting to be in the conversation come Selection Sunday.

Meet the Spartans

Departing Players

  • 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.

Projected Starters

  • 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 biggest threats behind the arc. Winston scored 26 points in their loss to the Hoosiers. He leads the team in points per game and leads the conference in assists per game.
  • 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 9.1 boards per game and is also tied for second most assists per game.
  • 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. After the injury to Ward, he has been much more involved in the team’s rotation and moved up to being a starter. He averages 8.9 ppg and a solid 7 rebounds/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 plays 37 minutes per game the last 3 games and has been contributing >10 points/game over this stretch.
  • 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.

The Rotation

  • Nick Ward – 6’9” / 245 lbs / Forward /Junior – Gahanna, OH. Has a hand injury and out indefinitely for the Spartans.
  • Kyle Ahrens – 6’7” / 210 lbs / Guard-Forward / RS Junior – Versailles, OH. Has been playing about 20-30 minutes a game the last few weeks, but only tallied 7 points over this stretch.
  • 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.

Injury Watch

Michigan State has been battling substantial injuries with both Nick Ward out indefinitely due to a hand injury and Joshua Langford out for the season due to an ankle injury.

According to The Detroit News:

“Senior guard Matt McQuaid was held out of most of practice on Thursday after sustaining a sprained ankle. His status is in question for Saturday’s game at Indiana.”

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:

  1. Indiana shouldn’t make the Tournament…Right? There are currently 18 teams with 5 quadrant 1 wins and 0 Quadrant 3/4 losses. MSU, Kansas, UVA, UK, Miss. State, Duke, LSU, Marquette, Tenn, Michigan, UNC, Wisconsin, KSU, FSU, Maryland, TT, Iowa State….and Indiana. 17 of 18 of these teams are comfortably in the field and we know that the Hoosiers are on the outside looking in by most unbiased basketball fans in the country. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out and there will be unhappy basketball fans whichever way the Hoosiers lie come tournament time. However, if we keep winning, the conversation becomes less debatable.
  2. +Race and -Ward. This may be the first game in a while that the Hoosiers have an injury advantage against their opponent. Race is back and has been a solid contributor for the Hoosiers especially against the Badgers this week. Nick Wardhas been gone for over a week and the Spartans have yet to lose a game after this injury. This shows how deep their roster is, but it will be interesting to see a stronger Hoosier team that previously beat the Spartans this season. It will be interesting to see how the Hoosiers continue to develop Race into being a key member of the Hoosiers.
  3. Cassius vs. Romeo. We will see another match-up between two of the top players in college. Romeo is the lesser college player currently, but projected to be a top 10 NBA draft pick. Cassius is a college star and outperformed Romeo when they last met. This is a common occurrence for Romeo, but he is starting to mature into being a star for the Hoosiers with making a crucial go a head layup against the Badgers this week.
  4. The Hoosier Faithful. Indiana will need to get the crowd involved again for this final primetime match-up of the season on FOX. All games are must win games for the remainder of the season and the “Hall of Calls” needs to give the Hoosiers every advantage they can get on Saturday (credit: Dan Dakich for this realization).
  5. The Big Ten Tournament. The B10 Tournament is only a few weeks away and the bottom 4 teams play each other the first day. A reasonable goal would be to get a first round bye as the only way to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament for now would be to win the tournament. The Hoosiers currently have a < 1% chance at doing so, but we have already beat the team with the highest chance, Michigan State.

How to Watch

DateSaturday, March 2nd
Time12:00 PM EST
RadioHoosiersTV Audio

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