Well-rested IU faces Michigan State today

With a well-rested pitching staff, Indiana coach Tracy Smith may look to get creative Saturday against Michigan State. IU's game notes indicated that Evan Bell may get this first start of the season when IU faces the Spartans at 2 p.m. ET with a chance to advance to Sunday's Big Ten title game on the line.

This was the situation that Indiana coach Tracy Smith hoped to be in.

Two games behind him in the Big Ten Tournament and two victories, the Hoosiers are one of two teams remaining still without a loss this weekend in Omaha.

Especially in terms of a pitching rotation, it couldn't be much better. Joey DeNato threw seven innings in the opener in IU's 5-2 win over Iowa and Christian Morris went seven in Indiana's 5-0 shutout of Michigan in Game 2.

Specifically, that means that the bullpen has only had to throw four innings total this week.

It also means that Smith can be creative today when the Hoosiers will be out to beat Michigan State for the right to advance to a Sunday championship game against either Nebraska or Michigan.

Normally, Indiana (40-13) would go with No. 3 starter Brian Korte today against the Spartans. Korte is 3-0 this season with a 2.11 ERA in 38.1 innings pitched. He's IU's next most consistent starter with seven starts.

The next option would likely be Sullivan Stadler, who was IU's mid-week starter for most of the year. Stadler made five starts and is 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA.

Instead, IU's game notes for Saturday's 2 p.m. ET start against Michigan State call for sophomore right hander Evan Bell to get the ball for the Hoosiers. Bell has made 24 appearances in his IU career but only has one start and that was last year. This season, in 13.2 innings all in relief, Bell is 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA. He has 11 strikeouts and three walks. He has also surrendered 15 hits.

The starter for Michigan State (31-26) is unknown. This will be the Spartans' fourth game in as many days while the Hoosiers are just playing their third game. Michigan State beat Illinois 2-1 on Wednesday, lost to Nebraska 3-2 on Thursday and then beat Illinois in an elimination game Friday 11-2. In that game, the game was tied 2-2 headed to the eighth before MSU erupted for six runs.

The situation for Indiana Saturday is simple. Win one game and advance to defend its Big Ten title on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park.

IU and Michigan State will meet at 2 p.m. ET, following Nebraska-Michigan which begins at 10 a.m. ET. If both IU and Nebraska win, they advance to Sunday. If either Michigan or Michigan State win, there will be a second game on Saturday.

If Michigan State beats Indiana at 2 p.m., the teams will either play at 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. ET depending on if an extra game is required in the Nebraska-Michigan series.

Stay tuned for coverage throughout the day at AllHoosiers.com. We will have a live in-game thread for the IU-Michigan State action throughout the day.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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