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GAMETHREAD: Indiana at Michigan State (with a hastily constructed game preview too!)

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Indiana's quest to stay atop the Big Ten standings won't get any easier as they head into East Lansing to take on the Spartans.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Stuff You Need To Know

WHO? #8 Michigan State (20-5, 7-5) at #22 Indiana (20-5, 10-2)

WHERE? Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Michigan

WHEN? 1pm, Saturday

WATCH? CBS

VEGAS? MSU -7

KENPOM? MSU by 8, 80-72, with a 77% chance of victory

_____________________________________________

It's today's game where the loss to Penn State (sorry to bring that up) could really sting Indiana. Had the team taken care of business out in State College they'd be a game ahead of the rest of the conference and a road loss to Michigan State wouldn't cost them first place. At the same time, Indiana could essentially erase the Penn State loss from their résumé with a victory over the Spartans and really put the heat on Iowa and Maryland to keep pace, given that Indiana's remaining games against the conference's elite all occur within the friendly walls of Assembly Hall.

A loss today would, of course, put a real squeeze on the Hoosiers' ability to secure a Big Ten title, outright or otherwise. Assuming Iowa pulverizes Minnesota in Carver Hawkeye, they'll be a game back of the Hawkeyes and the remaining game between the two would, of course, take place away from Bloomington. The Hawkeyes schedule, while still the softest of the remaining contenders, does look a little more daunting after big wins by Michigan and Wisconsin yesterday. But they haven't lost to a team ranked lower than 19 on KenPom since November.

HERE, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?

Four Factors
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (#14 Adj. Offense) 59.3% (1st) 20.4% (299th) 38.7% (10th) 34.2% (235th)
MICHIGAN STATE (#28 Adj. Defense) 41.9% (2nd) 14.1% (345th) 23.7% (8th) 34.7% (125th)
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (#56th Adj. Defense) 48.4% (108th) 19.2% (117th) 29.2% (136th) 30.7% (53rd)
MICHIGAN STATE (#5 Adj. Offense) 55.2% (15th) 17.7% (136th) 37.2% (17th) 31.8% (294th)

Like pretty much all Tom Izzo's teams from now back through antiquity, there isn't much that Michigan State struggles with outside a glaring inability to turn their opponents over. Lucky for them, Indiana has shown a propensity to make forcing turnovers really, really easy on their opponents. If Indiana can't keep ahold of the ball against a team that is only better than six other teams in the entire country at forcing turnovers, they could be in for a very long afternoon against a Spartan defense that excels at defending shots and preventing offensive rebounds.

Indiana's last trip to East Lansing was the stuff of nightmares, as the Hoosiers shot 20% from beyond the arc and lost by 20 points. They were down 17-4 after ten minutes and went into halftime facing a 36-17 deficit. Indiana has been susceptible to slow starts on the road for, roughly, forever and another one of those this afternoon could just as quickly bury the Hoosiers before the third TV timeout.

Denzel Valentine is healthy for this Valentine's Day tilt, Lourawls Nairn is not. Lawrence North product Eron Harris will likely start in his place for the Spartans, and we are all officially on alert for INDIANA KID VS. INDIANA. Harris wears #14 and hits close to 40% of his 3PT attempts, which is likely to dredge up some awful memories of Gary Harris dominating the Hoosiers nearly every time he played them.

Go Hoosiers.

UPDATE: Perhaps Nairn does get in the game today.