A closer look at Indiana-Michigan State

Indiana travels to East Lansing on Monday to play Michigan State. Get a closer look at the matchup here.

When Indiana travels to East Lansing to play Michigan State on Monday, the Hoosiers will face a situation very similar to the once they face in their Big Ten opener at Nebraska on New Year's Eve.

Like Nebraska, Michigan State is a struggling team, but has the talented to compete in the Big Ten. Both Nebraska and Michigan State have dropped disappointing games of late, but both are also very tough to beat at home.

The Spartans (9-5) are coming off a heartbreaking double-overtime home loss to No. 11 Maryland. Michigan State had the game all but won, but couldn't close out the talented Terrapins.

The negative for the Hoosiers (11-3): It's hard to see a Tom Izzo team opening the Big Ten season by losing back-to-back games at home. That just doesn't happen.

The positive for the Hoosiers: They're virtually playing with house money on Monday night after winning at Nebraska. All of the pressure is on Michigan State after losing to Maryland, and nobody expected the Hoosiers to start the conference year 2-0 on the road. When Indiana plays with house money and without the pressure, good things usually tend to happen.

Four Michigan State players score in double figures, led by senior guard Travis Trice at 13.9 points per game. Trice also averages 5.9 assists and only 1.7 turnovers per contest, but he's shooting just 39 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc.

Junior guard Denzel Valentine is having a strong campaign for the Spartans, averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and nearly 47 percent from beyond the arc. Valentine shot only 37.7 percent from distance a season ago, so you could make the argument he's the Spartans' most improved player.

Branden Dawson (pictured) hasn't been the consistent offensive presence Michigan State desperately needs, and that's a significant reason for the team's early struggles. Dawson is averaging 10.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, but his numbers are down across the board from a season ago, and he hasn't proven he's capable of being a No. 1 option. Dawson is shooting a dismal 39.3 percent from the foul line after shooting 65.6 percent from the charity stripe as a junior.

So far this season, Dawson has been most dangerous on the glass, an area the Hoosiers have improved in over the course of the last few games.

Other significant contributors for the Spartans include Matt Costello (8.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Bryn Forbes (10.1 ppg, 44.9% 3-point shooter) and Marvin Clark (7.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg). Freshman Javon Bess has played only 46 minutes this season -- including five against Maryland -- but he's healthy and Izzo said he will play heavy minutes on Monday night.

Michigan State currently sits in the 23rd spot in the KenPom.com rankings, 21 spots ahead of the Hoosiers despite the Spartans' five losses.


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