What a great season to be a Hoosier.
Week after week, college basketball has been routinely delivering one sensational match-up after another, and on Tuesday, the nation gets one more.
In a rematch of their first showdown in Bloomington, the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers will be traveling to East Lansing, Michigan to take on Tom Izzo and the 4th-ranked Michigan State Spartans.
The Hoosiers won the first meeting, 75-70, but it was an intensely contested battle in which Indiana was never ahead by more than seven in the second half.
Commanded by budding superstar Victor Oladipo and his 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, and 3 blocks, the Hoosiers rebuffed and rebutted a repeated number of rallies by the Spartans.
With a 71-70 lead with a little more than three minutes remaining, Indiana locked down defensively and held Michigan State scoreless over the final 3:12 on four missed shots and three turnovers to earn one of their more impressive victories of the season.
If the Hoosiers want to win in East Lansing, however, they’re going to need to deliver a similar performance to the one we saw in Columbus against Ohio State.
After witnessing the complete and utter dismantling of the Michigan Wolverines on February 12th, it’s abundantly clear that Michigan State poses the biggest threat to Indiana’s chances of securing the Big Ten conference championship.
Let’s see why.
In our first preview, we noticed that the Hoosiers led in all four major statistical categories (the Four Factors) by a large margin when we compared averages for Indiana at Assembly Hall (and MSU on the road).
Now, we’ll compare the season averages for Indiana on the road and Michigan State at the Breslin Center, and we can see how Michigan State nearly becomes our equal (on paper).
|MICHIGAN STATE (home)||53.83%||20.85%||34.93%||31.93%|
The Spartans have the smallest of advantages, albeit in the most important category: effective field goal percentage.
For all intents and purposes though, it’s essentially a tie. Even so, the Hoosiers hold the advantage in the three remaining categories, but not by a very large margin.
In reality, both teams post about 13 turnovers per game, and Indiana averages roughly one more offensive rebound per game.
From the charity stripe, however, the Hoosiers average nearly seven more attempts. But statistically, it’s very close.
Ken Pomeroy favors Indiana by 2 with a 60% chance of winning, and Vegas has the Hoosiers as a 1.5 point favorite.
Given recent performances over Ohio State, Nebraska, and Purdue, and the fact that Vic is expected to play, I fancy Indiana on Tuesday.
I’ve also got the Hoosiers by two, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see this game come down to the final shot.
Prediction: Indiana 69, Michigan State 67