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IU faces Michigan State, and the winner of tonight's game appears quite likely to win a share of the Big Ten crown.
Michigan State Spartans
Current record Current RPI Current Sagarin
2011-12 RPI 2011-12 SagarinPomeroy scouting reportSeries: Head Coach TV
As I have said many times this season, IU's next game is the biggest of the season in the Big Ten so far. As it stands today, the Spartans and the Hoosiers have put two games between themselves, and two losses, and everyone else, with at least four losses. For the Hoosiers, a win tonight would be especially sweet. IU hasn't won at the Breslin Center since 1991, a stretch that includes 17 losses. This is, amazingly enough, the first-ever meeting between top 5 teams at Breslin. Astoundingly enough, Pomeroy gives IU a 60 percent chance of prevailing in this one.
IU won the first meeting between the two 75-70 in Bloomington on January 27. IU led for the final 24 minutes of the game, but didn't put the Spartans away until the final minute. MSU had one of its best days of the season from behind the arc, and 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris was very good, leading MSU with 21 points and shooting 5-10 from behind the arc. In that game, IU played a zone that was, contrary to early perception, fairly effective. My guess is that we will see some zone again tonight, in order to keep Cody Zeller out of foul trouble and to give him some help against MSU's physical big men. Victor Oladipo had a fantastic game in the first meeting, but since Derrick Nix has informed us that Branden Dawson is just as good as Oladipo, so that is a matchup to watch, I suppose.
What else can be said, really? The Spartans are undefeated at home this season, and they took apart Michigan a week ago. On the other hand, the Spartans' home games against Ohio State, Illinois, Minnesota, and even Nebraska have been somewhat competitive. Based on public comments, MSU players appear to have chips on their shoulders about the media, Michigan, IU, Cody Zeller, Oladipo, and any number of other subjects. It will be a tough game. Still, after IU's trip to Ohio State, a win in East Lansing against the admittedly superior Spartans (EDIT: superior to Ohio State, I mean) seems a bit more realistic. A loss isn't the end of the world, but a win would be a huge step toward the Hoosiers accomplishing all of their regular season goals.