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GAMETHREAD: Michigan State Spartans at Indiana Hoosiers

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The depleted Hoosiers welcome Tom Izzo's club to Bloomington for a critical Saturday matinee in the Big Ten.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

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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 -4.5

Pomeroy? Indiana by 7, 74% chance of Indiana victory

LISTEN TO FISCHER

SPARTY

Here's what Kyle Swick had to say about Michigan State in this weekend's game preview:

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.

A GLIMMER OF HOPE?