Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (13-6 (3-3), #27 KenPom) vs. Michigan State (12-7 (4-2), #48 KenPom)
When? Saturday, January 21st, 4:00 PM, ESPN
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
Vegas? INDIANA -7
Pomeroy? Indiana by 7, 74% chance of Indiana victory
Collin Hartman. Juwan Morgan. OG Anunoby.
All three were expected to be big contributors this year and all three currently vary in status from "day-to-day" to "season over." More unfortunately, they all essentially play the same position. Tom Crean has long been attached to his lineup of three guards, a stretch/wing, and a post. If Juwan is available on Saturday, the absence of Anunoby will be mitigated a bit, but if his foot prevents him from playing in yet another game, it's likely up to Zach McRoberts or Freddie McSwain to move into the starting lineup.
And this development couldn't have come at a worse time, as Michigan State's super-frosh Miles Bridges is finally healthy again, and the 6'7" has been a monster the past two games, scoring 40 points (6-8 3PT) and pulling down 15 rebounds in a win over Minnesota and loss to Ohio State. With OG Anunoby now set to miss the rest of the season following knee surgery, it'll take a committee to slow him down.
Tom Izzo's squad is banged up and very young after replacing most of last season's big contributors that won nearly 30 games. But Tom Izzo is still Tom Izzo, and he's one of the few coaches you'd almost never bet against. On the other hand, Indiana's numbers become a lot more dubious now that they reflect what Indiana was with OG in the lineup as opposed to what they could become without him, but let's take a look anyway.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#13 Adj. Offense)||57.4 (7th)||21.3 (304th)||39.9 (5th)||37.8 (113th)|
|MICHIGAN STATE (#30 Adj. Defense)||44.7 (17th)
||27.2 (76th)||34.3 (156th)
|INDIANA (#87 Adj. Defense)||45.8 (28th)||16.3 (306th)||28.0 (105th)||32.9 (133rd)|
|MICHIGAN STATE (#94 Adj. Offense)||54.3 (44th)||20.8 (285th)||28.4 (213th)||35.5 (160th)
Michigan State is a slightly improved Penn State, numerically, with a great defense but a struggling offense. It should be noted, however, that the Spartans were rather thoroughly dunked on by the Nittany Lions when they met up in The Palestra earlier this month, done in by poor shooting and turnovers. The Spartans tend to shoot it well, with good marks from all parts of the field, but a turnover rate on par with Indiana's, along with a complete absence of offensive rebounding and an average free throw rate (coupled with horrific free throw shooting, 63.1% AS A TEAM, good for 332nd in the country) means that any off-shooting night usually leaves them without a path to victory.
There's a lot more to rebounding than size, but injuries in the post have left Michigan State with no rotation player taller than 6'8" and they're 303rd nationally in average height. Nick Ward has burst onto the scene as a 6'8" center who, despite his lack of traditional size for the position, is leading in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, and his 73.8% FTR would be top-15 if he met the minutes threshold. That said, he's only a bit better than a coin-flip from the charity stripe. He became the go-to guy, particularly in Miles Bridges' absence, and is 15th in the country in usage percentage.
Point guard duties are being shared by Lourawls Nairn and freshman Cassius Winston, the latter leading the entire country in assist rate and his 53.9% is more than 6% greater than the guy in second place. Both are pass-first guys that are rather limited on offense and possess turnover rates north of 20%. If either of these guys gets their shot going against Indiana, that's a huge problem. Winston had a big scoring night against Northwestern (15 points, 2-3 3PT) but has nine total points in the four games since.
The beneficiary of these pass-savvy point guards is typically Eron Harris, the West Virginia transfer, tasked with the scoring load in the backcourt and hitting 38.5% of his shots from distance. He's taken more threes than twos and will spend all night hunting his shot. Indiana's guards will have to be diligent on screens and double-teams to prevent Harris from getting clean looks with any regularity. Same goes for freshman Joshua Langford, who doesn't take as many shots but has hit 44.2% from distance and has only seen his playing time increase since conference play started. Prior to the start of the B1G season, he hadn't played more than 23 minutes in a game, but since then he has yet to play less than 24.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
Disrupt the Point Guards: Michigan State's A/FGM is 1st in the nation (2nd in conference play) while Indiana's dA/FGM is 12th in the nation (1st in conference play). If Indiana can continue the trend and make the Spartans create shots via one-on-one play, their lack of creators could make it awfully difficult to generate consistent good looks. Unfortunately, few teams have struggled to beat Indiana off the dribble and score without the benefit of great passing.
- Strength vs. Strength, Weakness vs. Weakness: Through the young Big Ten season, Indiana is 2nd in offense and Michigan State is 1st in defense, meanwhile the Hoosiers are 10th on defense and the Spartans are 9th in offense. The difference in quality of basketball we are likely to see on each side of the timeline is borderline comical. Naturally, by bringing this up, Michigan State will look fluid on offense but be a sieve on defense.
- Thanks for Everything, OG Anunoby: I would imagine the freak injury OG suffered will all but cement the decision to leave school early and head to the NBA. Nothing exposes you to the cold, potential reality of amateur sports more than having your knee give out while you're trying to position yourself for a rebound. There will be plenty of time to discuss Anunoby's legacy when / if he decides to leave, but interestingly enough, he will have played less minutes across his 50 career games at Indiana than a typical starter would play in a year.