Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Tip-off: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 – 7:00 PM ET
Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, MI
Tonight the fourth-ranked Michigan State Spartans will host the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers in a game that marks the first time two top-five teams have met at the Breslin Center.
It’s the third college basketball game of top-four teams this season, and the second for the Hoosiers, which beat then top-ranked Michigan Wolverines. It’s just the fourth with a pair of Big Ten teams since 1997, according to YouWager experts.
After this game, first place in the Big Ten — and perhaps top seeding in next month’s NCAA tournament — will be at stake with four games remaining in the regular season.
Furthermore, the Spartans great Magic Johnson is scheduled to work the game as an ESPN analyst.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo is embracing the significance of the showdown while Hoosiers Tom Crean insisted he won’t even mention what is on the line when he talks to his players.
Indiana (23-3, 11-2) was expected to be great — ranked No. 1 in the preseason — and they have been with center Cody Zeller, guard Victor Oladipo and forward Christian Watford leading the way. The Hoosiers have won three straight since losing by two points versus the Illinois Fighting Illini and eight of their last nine games, including a closely contested victory over the Spartans last month.
According to the college basketball free picks, Michigan State (22-4, 11-2), without All-America forward Draymond Green, was expected to be in somewhat of a rebuilding mode. Ranked No. 14 in the preseason, they got their first quality win by beating the Kansas Jayhawks and have steadily climbed in the poll by winning five straight and 11 of their last 12 games thanks to a balanced offense and stifling defense.
On Jan. 27 at Assembly Hall, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo had 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks to help his team hold off the Spartans in a 75-70 victory.
Crean said he expects Oladipo to play Tuesday, three days after he limped off the court with a sprained left ankle in the first half of a victory versus the Purdue Boilermakers and sat out the second half.
Spartans freshman guard Gary Harris, an Indiana native, said the team will try to stop Oladipo from doing what he does best.