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No. 6 Michigan State at Indiana: Game Preview

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Can the Hoosiers knock off a second straight ranked opponent?

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info/How to Watch

Who? Michigan State Spartans (23-5, 14-3, #4 KenPom) at Indiana Hoosiers (14-14, 5-12 #49 KenPom)

When? Saturday 12:00 p.m., Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Channel? FOX

Vegas? O/U 136.5, Michigan State -7

KenPom? Michigan State by 8, 72-64, 23% chance of Hoosier victory

Preview

Indiana finally got back in the win column on Tuesday against a ranked Wisconsin team, and will have the chance to pull a season sweep over a Michigan State team that’s been the best in the Big Ten this year and one of the best teams in the country. The high point of the Hoosiers’ season came in an overtime win against Sparty in East Lansing. Indiana’s chances of getting a bid to the tournament aren’t completely dead, and a win today starts to make the conversation a little bit more interesting. But Michigan State comes to Bloomington having won five straight and have their eyes set on a Big Ten title and a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Keys to the Game

Slow down Cassius Winston: I know, I know. Easier said than done, etc. With Josh Langford and Nick Ward sidelined with injuries, the burden on Winston has been even greater. He’s up to the task, however, and showed that he’s capable of carrying the Spartans to a win in hostile territory with 27 points and eight assists against Michigan. In the first meeting, Winston got loose for 26 rebounds, seven rebounds and seven assists. The onus will largely fall on Rob Phinisee, who put in a great defensive performance on the Wisconsin guards on Tuesday. Pick-and-roll defense will be crucial, as Michigan State will have Winston running that action almost every time down the floor. Winston has shown he can be turnover prone at times, and that might be the key to keeping him in check. He’s going to get his. Indiana has to at least make him work for it.

Battle of the boards: Indiana won the rebounding battle in the first matchup, 48-40. Michigan State doesn’t lose on the glass often, but the Hoosiers got their number the first time around. Without Nick Ward, there could be an opportunity for Indiana to do it once again. Against a stout Spartan defense, second chance points are going to be a valuable source of offense. Look for Juwan Morgan, Justin Smith, De’Ron Davis and even Race Thompson to put pressure on the offensive glass. On the other end, keeping Xavier Tillman and Kenny Goins from doing the same will be a key to slowing down one of the nation’s best offenses.

Bring the energy: You have a top 10 team coming to Assembly Hall. You’re riding the wave of a much needed win over a ranked team earlier in the week. Indiana can set the tone early by coming out and bringing the energy early on, which is something that they’ve struggled with for most of the Big Ten season. Michigan State can push the tempo. They’re going to be physical. Match that energy and physicality and let’s make this a game. Set the tone early and make them earn it.