The No. 11 Michigan State Spartans will face a conference road challenge on Thursday night, taking on the 14-4 Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. Road wins in the Big Ten are hard to come by this season, but the Spartans have already hung a pelt on the wall with a win at Northwestern in mid-December.
Indiana is currently seventh in the Big Ten at 4-3 in conference play. The Hoosiers are led by freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds) and junior guard Justin Smith (12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds). Al Durham and Devonte Green are both double-digit scorers for Archie Miller’s group as well.
While Indiana is certainly a capable team, it lacks the ability to shoot the ball from deep consistently. The Hoosiers currently rank 304th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at .298. They are effective on the offensive glass, ranking 22nd in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, so at least they are getting plenty of second chances.
Michigan State currently ranks eighth in the Kenpom rankings and had been one of the more consistent teams in the nation until two weeks ago when Purdue put a 29-point beatdown on them. The Spartans regrouped with a win over Wisconsin on Jan. 17 to get back on the right track.
Michigan State is led by point guard Cassius Winston (18.1 points, 6.1 assists) and Xavier Tillman (13.9 points, 10 rebounds) and currently leads the Big Ten by a half-game over Illinois at 6-1.
The Spartans are currently in the top 35 in the nation in points scored per game at 78.3 points per contest on offense and in the top 60 in the country at 63.7 points per game allowed.
Michigan State is a 3.5-point favorite on the road, while the over/under is set at 141.5.
Does Indiana Have Izzo’s Number?
Tom Izzo is just 2-3 against Indiana in their last five meetings, including a 1-2 mark in Bloomington since 2017. The Spartans are a mediocre 9-9 against the spread on the season and just 1-7 ATS in road/neutral-site contests this season.
Michigan State is 5-3 straight up in those eight games, however. The Spartans have found their stride recently, going 6-1 ATS in their last seven games, while going under the total in four of their last five games.
Protecting Home Court Is Imperative
In a season when road victories are extremely difficult to come by in the Big Ten, it becomes even more important that you protect your home court. The Hoosiers have done just that this season, going 11-1 straight up in Bloomington while going 7-5 against the spread at home.
Overall, Indiana is just 9-9 ATS and 2-6 in its last eight games overall. The Hoosiers have gone over in seven of their 12 home games this season but have gone under in four of their last five overall.
The Win That Miller Needs
Indiana fans are very hot and cold in regards to their coach these days, so Miller could really use a big win at home. Indiana has the talent to pull off the upset, but the Spartans were the No. 1 team in the nation to start the season for a reason.
Tillman has the defensive chops to slow down Jackson-Davis, and Winston is one of the best players in the country. Despite the Big Ten home-team trend, I wouldn’t overthink this one. Take the Spartans and the under.