Indiana vs. Michigan State Gameday

Everyone involved with the basketball programs gets a two-hour reprieve tonight when the subject won't be NCAA violations or seven-day investigations or anything of the sort – instead it will be basketball. IU welcomes Michigan State at 9 p.m. in a critical game for both teams if they to remain in the Big Ten race…

Game Particulars: Indiana (20-4/9-2) vs. Michigan State (20-4/8-3)
In the midst of seven-day investigations, NCAA Notices of Infraction and speculation about Coach Kelvin Sampson's future, there's actually a basketball game to be played – and an important one at that. With ESPN College Gameday in town for the circus, Indiana looks to remain on the heels of Purdue for the Big Ten lead as it hosts Michigan State at 9 p.m. Michigan State, meanwhile, desperately needs a win if it has any hopes of being a contender for the Big Ten regular season championship.

IU is coached by Kelvin Sampson, who is in his second year as Indiana's head coach and owns a 41-15 record in Bloomington and a 496-272 career mark. Michigan State, meanwhile, is coached by Tom Izzo, who is now in his 13th year in East Lansing and owns a 298-125 record.

The game will be televised by ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (color commentary), Erin Andrews (sideline reporter) and Andy Katz (sideline reporter) calling the match-up.

Indiana 2007-08 Schedule

Michigan State 2007-08 Schedule

PROBABLE STARTERS
Indiana Hoosiers (20-4/9-2)
PG- Armon Bassett(6-1, 176, So.) – 10.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 46.2% 3 pt. shooting
SG- Eric Gordon (6-4, 205, Fr.) – 21.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 40% 3 pt. shooting
WG – Jamarcus Ellis (6-5, 210, Jr.) – 7.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 40.5% FG shooting
F – Kyle Taber (6-7, 226, Jr.) - 0.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.2 bpg, 66.7% FG shooting
F – D.J. White (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 17.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 62.4% FG shooting

Michigan State Spartans (20-4/8-3)
PG- Travis Walton (6-2, 190, Jr.) 3.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.4 apg, 37.7% FG shooting
SG – Drew Neitzel (6-0, 185, Sr.) – 13.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.5 apg, 40% 3 pt. shooting
SF – Raymar Morgan (6-7, 225, So.) – 15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 55.8% FG shooting
PF – Goran Suton (6-10, 245, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 52.4% FG shooting
C- Drew Naymick (6-10, 250, Sr.) 4.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 1.8 bpg, 68.4% FG shooting

Indiana 2007-08 Statistics

Michigan State 2007-08 Statistics

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
What kind of fight do the Hoosier players have left?– After Wednesday's two-point loss to Wisconsin, D.J. White said the recent turmoil surrounding the program hasn't been a distraction, the team is a family, and the it had nothing to do with IU's setback. That sounds good, but it's unfathomable to think the players haven't had the air let out of their tires a bit this week. Indiana has gone from a team with Big Ten and Final Four aspirations to one that doesn't know who its coach will be next week. I don't care how tough-minded and resilient you are, that's going to take a toll and be a distraction. We'll see much of a toll it takes tonight, particularly in game's first 10 minutes. Indiana could be in real jeopardy if things don't go well early in the game. If Michigan State jumps on top quickly, it would be easy for IU's players to go through the motions and use Sampson's situation as an excuse. We'll find out quickly if that's going to happen.

Will Indiana go zone, and will that allow Drew Neitzel to get untracked? - The Hoosiers' decision to rely on a zone has had mixed result in recent weeks. It didn't work at Illinois, where Demetri McCamey connected on seven 3-pointers and forced IU to eventually switch back to man in the second half. It was then very effective at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes made only 7-of-27 3-point shots and shot 39 percent overall. But it failed again against Wisconsin, as Jason Bohanon knocked down six of UW's 11 3-pointers on their way to a victory. As IU gears up for Michigan State, Neitzel is the only serious 3-point threat on the MSU roster so the zone is once again a tempting option. Neitzel has also struggled as of late, going just 5-of-23 from 3-point range in his last four games. But IU can't allow the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year choice to get uncontested looks, either. He's capable of getting untracked in a hurry, and Indiana can ill-afford to have Neitzel scoring 20-plus points tonight.

How well can the Hoosiers match-up with Goran Suton? If Kyle Taber earns another start tonight, he's going to have another tough assignment in 6-10, 245-pound Goran Suton. Suton is among the league leaders in rebounding at over eight per game, he can score on the block, and he can also step outside and knock down a jump shot. He's also a big, physical player who would be very difficult for Lance Stemler to defend – Stemler doesn't have the strength to keep Suton off the glass. That's why Taber and DeAndre Thomas will likely see the most action at the ‘4' position tonight, and Stemler's opportunities could very well be limited.

QUOTABLES
"We have a lot to play for. First of all, we're still in the running for the Big Ten Championship. We have three seniors and two senior captains, in Lance Stemler and D.J. White, that are coming down the stretch run of their careers. When you get to this time of the year, kids get excited about March, but for us we have so much to play for the remainder of the season."

"The guy that jumped out at me Tuesday night against Purdue was Kalin Lucas. He's a match-up problem. He uses high ball screens well, he's a one-man fast break the way he gets up the court. What's always been a staple with Tom's team has been his offensive rebounding, their size. We're rotating guys in at the four-spot trying to get some consistency there. We've got guys giving us a good effort, but we need more productivity in terms of rebounding." – Kelvin Sampson

"I think [it's important] because we have to have this one to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship. We know that and that¹s the extra emphasis on this game." – Lance Stemler

"(on Drew Neitzel) He's a really quick guard that makes a lot of good decisions. He's a really complete player. He doesn't do a lot of things that just shock you, but he'll do a lot of the things that change the game for them." – Eric Gordon

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