Two of the conference's heavy hitters, Indiana and Michigan State, will both host mid-majors tonight as they try to go 3-0. The games, which will both be televised on BTN, will kick off at 7 tonight when Indiana tries to bounce back from a near loss to upset minded Long Island-Brooklyn. Following the Hoosiers will be Michigan State, facing off against Columbia after Michigan State took out the #1 team in the nation early in the week.
Samford (1-1) at Indiana (-19.5) (2-0) 7:00 PM EST BTN
The Hoosiers struggled from the field earlier in the week against Long Island-Brooklyn, having to hold on thanks to LIU missing a few last second shots. Look for the Hoosiers to bounce back against Samford as Tom Crean will make sure the Hoosiers don't come out flat once again.
So far Noah Vonleh has looked good for Indiana, coming off of a 17 point and 11 rebound performance earlier in the week. On the flip side, look for the offense to not run so much through Will Sheehey tonight, as the forward shot 33.3% from 18 shots in their last game. Troy Williams has looked solid in the frontcourt and Yogi Ferrell has been a capable scorer for Creans team and both guys will look to keep it up.
Going forward the bench will need to contribute more as their performance versus LIU-Brooklyn only netted five points. Also look for Indiana to focus on their defense as it's been a liability so far this season, giving up 72 points in both games this season. The defense was an area of concern heading into the season and so far it hasn't been pretty.
The Hoosiers will be facing a Samford team that is coming off of a 75-88 loss to Texas-Arlington. The team will rely heavily on junior guard Raijoh Kelly, who is their leading scorer. Down low is 6'8 forward Tim Williams, averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds per game. Besides Kelly and Williams there isn't all too much here and the Hoosiers talent and depth should be enough to take care of the Bulldogs. Don't expect as big of a challenge tonight for the Hoosiers.
Columbia (1-1) at Michigan State (-24) (2-0) 9:00 PM EST BTN
Michigan State is the favorite to win the Big Ten and started off the season as the second rank team in the land. So far they've lived up to the hype, knocking off a Kentucky team that is currently ranked 1st in the country and the Spartans should top the rankings by the end of the week. Michigan State will be wrapping up their week against Columbia tonight.
Columbia opened the season by beating Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) 73-54. That same UMES team would go on to lose by 46 points to Iowa. Columbia's last game was a one point loss to the Jaspers of Manhattan and now they will square off against arguably the best team in the nation. Look for the Lions to turn to Grant Mullins in the backcourt as he is the teams best offensive weapon. If Michigan State can shut Mullins down, things will likely go sour and it'll happen very, very quickly in tonight's game.
Michigan State is simply light years ahead of the Lions when it comes to talent. Even if the Spartans suffer a major hangover from their Kentucky win, their athleticism alone should propel them to the win. Michigan State's backcourt is far too quick, while their frontcourt is far too big and physical. Mix that with a team that can hit from anywhere on the court and you have an absolutely loaded, balanced Big Ten school facing an Ivy League mid-major.
Sparty wins big.