In the first meeting between these two teams in Bloomington, Indiana won 75-70. IU led for the vast majority of the game and could have put it away a lot sooner if not for some sloppy play on offense. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 16 times and let a lot of opportunities to ice the game slip by.
We previewed some of the match-ups between these two teams before the first game which can be found here.
Victor Oladipo had one of his most impressive games of the season against Michigan State. Oladipo finished that game with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals, and three blocks. He has had some very good games since, but might be limited by an ankle injury he suffered on Sunday against Purdue.
Oladipo practiced today and is still undergoing physical therapy. Coach Tom Crean stated that he would be very surprised if he didn't suit up for tomorrow's game.
Since the last meeting:
- Michigan State has won five games in a row. This includes impressive wins over Minnesota, 61-50, and an even more impressive blowout of Michigan, 75-52.
- Indiana is 5-1 since the last meeting and has had solid wins over Michigan and at Ohio State.
Keys to the game:
- Cody Zeller being Cody Zeller. Zeller had just nine points in the first meeting and too often settled for outside shots rather than getting dirty in the post. Since they he has been a much more impressive force down low. Since the MSU game, Zeller has been averaging 18.5 points per game and 8.7 rebounds. He has been much more willing to bang around in the paint and draw fouls.
- Oladipo's left ankle. Oladipo is going to play, but how severe is his ankle injury and how will it limit his game? His greatest strength is his athleticism and speed. Will the injury slow him down? Great defenders need to be able to move laterally to be effective, but a sprained ankle can limit that type of movement. Its unlikely that he will replicate his performance from the last meeting, but giving just 80-percent of that should be enough for the Hoosiers to pull out a win.
- How many times will IU turn the ball over? We have seen just how good this offense can be when the Hoosiers don't commit turnovers (see the Ohio State game, just eight turnovers). This is going to be a theme going forward for IU. If they want to make a deep tournament run, then they need to keep turnovers to a minimum especially on the road. Lately, the Spartans have had an issue with turnovers as well and this game could come down to who screws up less. Taking care of the ball is always important, but even more so on the road. The Spartans also recorded 11 steals in the last meeting.
While Michigan State has been rolling lately, the team has been suspect against lesser opponents. They narrowly defeated Illinois at home, winning by just five points (its fairly obvious that Illinois is getting better, and we are very aware that they beat Indiana, so don't point it out). Most recently the Spartans barely got out of Nebraska with a nine point win, which may not seem like that close of a game but keep in mind that Nebraska is horrible. Michigan State has yet to lose at home and Indiana has not won in East Lansing since 1991.
While the winner of this game will by no means win the Big Ten, it certainly will give them an edge. Both teams have four tough games left on the schedule.
- Indiana: at Minnesota, vs Iowa, vs No. 18 Ohio State, and at No. 7 Michigan.
- Michigan State: at No. 18 Ohio State, at No. 7 Michigan, vs No. 19 Wisconsin, and vs Northwestern.
It's fairly clear that the Spartans have the tougher road to a Big Ten title, but IU has a tougher final two. This is the biggest game of the year for both teams, you know, since the last biggest game of the year.
We'll be live tweeting during the game, so don't forget to follow us @hoosiers101.
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