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1/23 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State Travels to Bloomington

The Hoosiers host the Spartans in one of two Big Ten games tonight.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There’s two games set for tonight with a double header tipping off at 6:30 (ET) on FS1.

Game of the Night

#11 Michigan State Spartans at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET (FS1)

Michigan State bounced back nicely from a throttling at Purdue with a 12 point win over Wisconsin. Now they have to head back out on the road for a trip to Indiana.

Outside of the Purdue game the Spartans have been rolling since a loss to Duke. Last time out a balanced attack from the frontcourt was able to get things done even though Cassius Winston was held to 6 points on 3 of 12 shooting. Slowing down Winston will be key for the Hoosiers as the team struggles when their star guard can’t get into a rhythm. In four losses Winston is averaging 12.5 points compared to 19.8 points when Michigan State wins.

The Hoosier team is interesting because they have some solid wins (Ohio State, Florida State) but haven’t looked very good at the same time. While they’ve managed to avoid losing, they were played close twice by Nebraska, almost loss to Northwestern and struggled to get past UConn and Notre Dame. The team has quietly been piecing together a solid record even if the quality of basketball has been a bit lacking.

One area the Hoosiers have struggled heavily has been three point shooting, with the team only hitting 29.8% of their attempts (316th). That number has slipped even further in conference play, hitting only 25.8% attempts (last in the conference). The Hoosiers make up for that by getting to the line (their 180 attempts in conference play is most in the Big Ten while their 469 attempts this season is in the top ten nationally) but they’ve shot 66.7% from the line in conference play (11th). To further complicate their issues with three pointers and free throws, Indiana also has been one of the most turnover prone teams in the Big Ten. With Michigan State coming to town that’s a problem.

The Spartans offense is averaging just under 80 points per game and with Indiana’s inability to shoot, that means they’ll need to keep this game from turning into a high scoring affair. If the Hoosiers can take advantage of the home court advantage at Assembly Hall and find a way to contain Cassius Winston they could be in position for their best win of the season. If Winston bounces back then the Spartans should find a way to win.

Look for Winston to bounce back.

Pick: Michigan State

The Rest

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (FS1)

Just a month ago Ohio State was sitting at second in the country with a 11-1 record. Since then the Buckeyes have gone 1-5 (lone win against Nebraska) and have lost by double digits three times. Luckily for Ohio State they’re next game is at home.

I could probably insert some cliche “teams can’t win on the road in the Big Ten this year” line and it’s probably true. Ohio State has only lost once at home while Minnesota is 0-4 in conference play on the road, as well as 0-6 on the road in general (losing to Butler and Utah). I think the more notable issue for Ohio State was their four game skid that saw them never surpass 59 points, though they are averaging 78 in their last two against Nebraska and Penn State.

If Ohio State wants to turn things around this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Minnesota is probably better than their 10-8 record, but this is a winnable game. And with a road trip to Northwestern and a home game against Indiana, Ohio State should be able to win three straight before a week that sees road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin.

Minnesota knocked off Michigan and Penn State but their offense fizzled against Rutgers and Ohio State will look to replicate that same strategy. Even with an off night, center Daniel Oturu was still a force with 19 points and 9 rebounds. But the Scarlet Knights caused issues in the backcourt, holding Marcus Carr to 8 points on 2 of 8 shooting. If the Buckeyes can keep the Gophers backcourt at bay they should be fine as Oturu isn’t likely going to single handedly beat Ohio State.

Ohio State has had issues on offense and has been particularly vulnerable as of late. But Minnesota hasn’t played good on the road and Columbus isn’t exactly an easy place to play at. Unless Marcus Carr can go off again look for Ohio State to pick up a much needed win.

Pick: Ohio State