The Big Ten championship has six teams within 2.5 games of each other. That closeness could intensify after the leader, Michigan State, suffered an impactful injury with the potential season-ending hand injury of Nick Ward against Ohio State this afternoon.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo initially thought the injury was a “dislocated a finger or something” after the 62-44 victory over Ohio State Sunday, but further evaluation revealed that Ward suffered a hairline fracture of his left hand. The junior big man will out indefinitely, but Michigan State hopes he can return before the end of the season.
It is the second potentially season-ending injury for Michigan State. Spartan junior guard Joshua Langford was out of the season in late January, and now Ward, a junior, will potentially miss the rest of the season too. Statistically, it means Michigan State’s second and third leading scorers are going to potentially miss the rest of the season.
Ward was averaging 15.1 points per game and 6.7 rebounds and was the main option for Michigan State in the post. With Ward out now, Xavier Tillman will have an increased role with freshman Thomas Kithier needing to step up as well. The Spartans, currently tied with Michigan for first in the Big Ten, will play the Wolverines twice in the final five games. The absence of Ward to match up with Jon Teske and Iggy Brazdeikis could mean doom for Michigan State’s conference chances.
The Spartans are still tied for the conference championship, but that share could be in major jeopardy after the major piece of Michigan State’s post suffered a potentially season-ending injury. Michigan State has recovered well from Langford’s injury, but an injury to its main low-post presence could be difficult to overcome for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.
The Spartans host Rutgers on Wednesday.