INDIANA HOOSERS (12-6)
at MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (17-1)
Jack Breslin Student Events Center – East Lansing, MI
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan State -12, Total: 142
On Tuesday night, No. 3 Michigan State looks to sweep the season series from Indiana, which is looking to bounce back from a shocking home loss to Northwestern.
Indiana appeared to have turned things around after upsetting Wisconsin last Tuesday. However, the Hoosiers (8-8-1 ATS overall, 2-2-1 ATS in Big Ten) followed that up with an embarrassing 54-47 loss to 13-point underdog Northwestern on Saturday. Indiana has been a high-scoring team all season, but shot just 25% FG (4-of-18 threes) in that defeat. The offense must get it together, against a Michigan State team has won 10 straight games (8-2 ATS), including crushing the Hoosiers in Bloomington by 17 points on Jan. 4. In that game, the Spartans outshot their opponent 47.5% FG to 39.6% FG, making them 7-3 SU (6-4 ATS) in the past 10 games of this series. Michigan State is a veteran team that does a great job of sharing the ball, ranking third in the country in assists (18.9 APG). While the Spartans (11-6 ATS overall, 5-1 ATS in Big Ten) will be without a vital part of their team in C Adreian Payne (foot) who averages 16.2 PPG and 7.7 RPG, they have enough scorers to make up for his loss. Most of the betting trends favor Michigan State, which is a perfect 8-0 ATS this season versus teams that force 14 or fewer turnovers per game, outscoring these clubs by nearly 20 PPG (80.4 to 60.8). But Indiana head coach Tom Crean is 38-21 ATS (64%) since 1997 when facing a team that averages 40+ RPG.
Can Indiana keep the score to single-digits against red-hot Michigan State? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 59% ATS (160-110-5) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (128-76) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 61% ATS (33-21-1) in Best Bets for the season and 65% ATS (26-14) since Nov. 26. StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (32-22-1) on Best Bets this season, including 63% ATS (26-15) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Dave is also 59% ATS (32-22-1) for the season and 68% ATS (15-7) since Dec. 18. StatFox Gary is 58% ATS (31-22-2) for the season, and 66% ATS (23-12) since Dec. 3, while StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (32-23) for the season and 61% ATS (22-14) since Dec. 2.
If there is one thing the Hoosiers can hang their hat on this season, it has been their ability to dominate the glass. Coming into Tuesday night’s game, Indiana ranks fourth in the country in rebounding (43.2 RPG), in large part because of freshman Noah Vonleh (12.4 PPG, 53% FG, 9.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG). The freshman has eight games this season with at least 10 rebounds, and since struggling badly in the loss to Michigan State (5 points, 9 rebounds), Vonleh has averaged 15.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG in his past three games. With Adreian Payne out in the game, Vonleh has an opportunity to control the game down low, and he must do that if Indiana is going to get the victory. PG Yogi Ferrell (17.4 PPG, 4.0 APG, 41% threes) will have to play a lot better than he did against Northwestern when he finished 2-of-14 from the floor. The poor shooting affected him as a point guard, as he finished the game with only one assist in 31 minutes. While the Hoosiers' two young stars need to play at an elite level, they have to get a big game from senior SF Will Sheehey (10.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG). Sheehey must give the Hoosiers the veteran leadership as they go into one of the toughest environments in all of the country, and shake off his 1-of-7 shooting night on Saturday. Sheehey has made a career-low 45% FG and 28% threes this season. While he has not played a huge role for the Hoosiers this season, freshman SG Stanford Robinson (5.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG) had a solid game in his first meeting with the Spartans, scoring 11 points (5-for-9 FG) with four rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. This is the type of game where Tom Crean’s crew will have to get a complete team effort, as the Spartans are too good of team to get beat by one player.
While Indiana has been great on the glass, Michigan State is known for being one of the best rebounding teams every season. Through their first 18 games, the Spartans rank 20th in the country in rebounding (40.2 RPG), while also ranking 30th in scoring (80.4 PPG) and 38th in shooting (47.9% FG). With Payne injured, SG Gary Harris (17.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG) will be counted upon more to score, but he has the ability to go off for 20+ points on any given night, like he did earlier this month in Bloomington when he poured in 26 points (5-of-10 threes) with five steals against the Hoosiers. He has not shot as well (42% FG, 32% threes) as he did last season (46% FG, 41% threes), but he has become a more well-rounded offensive player with 5.1 free throw attempts per game this season (2.9 last season). Senior PG Keith Appling (16.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.7 RPG) teams up with Harris to form one of the most talented starting backcourts in the country. He can score in many different ways, and is a great spot-up shooter (45% threes) when Harris starts attacking the paint. While Harris is being counted upon to score more, F/G Branden Dawson (10.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG) should help ease the loss of Payne on the glass. Dawson is an athletic forward that is absolutely relentless on the glass, and has the ability to play lockdown defense. He contributed a strong 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the Jan. 4 win over Indiana.