Game Preview- #15 Iowa Hosts #7 Michigan State

USA TODAY Sports

What's left of an injury-riddled Michigan State heads to Iowa City to face off against the Hawkeyes.

By The Numbers

Iowa Team Michigan State
16-4 Record 18-2
#15 Rankings #7
30 RPI 8
12 BPI 7
4 KenPom 12
3 Sagarin

2

January 28, 2014 - Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa

7:00 PM ET ESPN/WatchESPN

Skinny:

The Hawkeyes lost on the road two games ago to the now first place Michigan Wolverines, but bounced back nicely with a 26 point win at Northwestern on Saturday. Iowa needs this win against Michigan State to help give them a real shot at winning the B1G. With the Spartans banged up, a win would not come as a surprise. While Aaron White and Roy Devyn Marble have been consistent players for the Hawkeyes, it's the ability of different role players to have big games as the season has gone on. Against Northwestern, it was Gabriel Olaseni who had the big game scoring 14 points and bringing down 10 boards in only 17 minutes. Olaseni and starting forward Melsahn Basabe will play a big role in a possible Iowa win due to what should be a big rebounding advantage over a Dawson/Payne-less Michigan State team.

Injuries happen every season to every team, but it's hard to imagine any team having it worse than Michigan State. In the past month, they have lost their top two rebounders while star guard Gary Harris has missed a few games. With that being said, Michigan State has still managed an 18-2 record and will be a force in the NCAA Tournament. The B1G Championship is the first goal to achieve and right now that means that Gary Harris is going to have to continue to play at an amazing rate. Michigan State is likely to going to lose the battle on the boards, but a smart Izzo team plays tight defense and shoots it well to prevent an Iowa transition offense that is dynamic.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Iowa Position Michigan State
Melsahn Basabe F/G Kenny Kaminski
Aaron White F/G Denzel Valentine
Adam Woodbury C/F Matt Costello
Roy Devyn Marble G Gary Harris
Mike Gessell G Keith Appling

Iowa Players to Watch:

Melsahn Basabe and Gabriel Olaseni have the talent and size to take over a game down low and this is the game they could do it. Together, these two are averaging 14.6 points and 11.9 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. These two will have an advantage against the Spartans as long as Adreian Payne remains out. Basabe and Olaseni are just part of the reason why the Hawkeyes ranks 3rd in the NCAA in rebounds per game.

Roy Devyn Marble could easily be the most important player on the Hawkeyes roster on Tuesday. Not only will Marble have to be a scorer, but he'll also be the guy that is matched up with Gary Harris on defense. Marble is averaging 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, which is great, but if he can keep Harris from scoring 15-20 points then his offensive stats are just icing on the cake.

Michigan State Players to Watch:

Gary Harris, Garry Harris, and Gary Harris are the most important players for Michigan State in this one. Harris had a huge game against Michigan scoring 27 points, but it was his defense on Nik Stauskas that had Michigan State almost winning that game. If you watched the first half then you saw exactly what I'm talking about. In this game he'll have to be able to hit more big shots and try and keep Roy Devyn Marble from having a nice game.

Matt Costello will have a much bigger impact on this game than most people realize. His 9 points and 8 rebounds were a nice surprise and will be needed again against the Hawkeyes. Iowa is a great rebounding team and without Payne (likely) MSU is likely to get outrebounded. It's up to Costello, the tallest starting player on MSU, to keep the number close though.

Staff Comments:

Iowa Perspective by Chris Kay (@InsiderFantasy1): Iowa played well against Michigan last week and I think gained some respect from fellow B1G fans because of that game. The Hawkeyes have shown so far during the B1G season that they are for real. Well, a win against Michigan State at home is the next step in continuing on what they've built. The best B1G teams win at home and that's what the Hawkeyes need to do against a banged up Michigan State team. The keys to this game are simple: rebound and stop Gary Harris. The Spartans average just under 5 rebounds less per game on the season and that is with Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne in their lineup (for most of the season at least). Those two are their top two rebounds as they bring in 16.4 rebounds per game. With those two out against Michigan, Gary Harris stepped up his game big time scoring 27 points and recorded 3 steals. Roy Devyn Marble is likely to be matched up on him and it is pivotal that he doesn't allow Harris to shoot 5 of 9 from three.

Michigan State Perspective by Tim Beck: MSU is coming off a tough loss to arch-rival Michigan. Payne is likely out and Dawson will be out until almost March. This squad seemed to lose steam towards the end of that hard-fought game on Saturday. Gary Harris was phenomenal offensively and defensively but Izzo says he is hurt. He may not be 100% against Iowa Tuesday night. And that would be terrible news. Iowa likes to run, and although MSU is great in transition, if they are hurt they will not be able to run with the Hawkeyes. The Spartans are still considered to be one of the top 3 teams in the conference right now, but so is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are so deep and the Spartans just are not right now due to these injuries. And Iowa is at home, giving them another advantage.  MSU will try to control tempo, but Iowa will get out and run and score in bunches.

Prediction:

Chris Kay- The loss of Dawson and Payne (if continues on his pace of not playing) will be too much to make up for and Iowa dominates the boards. Iowa wins 82-77.

Tim Beck- Iowa outpaces the Spartans in this one and inches closer to second place in the B1G.

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