Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The showcase game on ESPN Tuesday Night is one of the first revenge games of 2014. Indiana lost at home to Michigan State two weeks ago, and hopes to amend for that with an impressive performance in East Lansing.
Given most of Indiana’s results to date, that seems unlikely at first blush. But, this is a team that did beat powerhouse Wisconsin last week…and one that will be chomping at the bit after an utterly humiliating loss to Northwestern in the obvious letdown spot. The whole state was embarrassed about that…not just a grouchy head coach and balky alumni base. That loss created the real possibility that not a single team from the basketball-rich state of Indiana will qualify for the Big Dance!
The Hoosiers can work toward fixing that with a road upset Tuesday. The combination of revenge and bounce-back intangibles have often been value to college basketball handicappers. In this case, we also have a home team that’s struggled to play to expectations in front of their home crowd.
Big 10 on the road: 4-0 straight up and ATS, all double digit wins!
Big 10 at home: two overtime games as favorites
If the Spartans are likely to lose focus at home, this is the worst kind of opponent for that to happen against. Let’s run the matchup through our key indicator stats.
Indiana: #78 in Pomeroy, #57 in Sagarin
Michigan State: #5 in Pomeroy, #2 in Sagarin
You can see why the Hoosiers are in danger of missing the Big Dance. Only the top 50 are usually assured of getting in (and some years it’s not that many!). College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy has them WAY off the pace. Jeff Sagarin of USA Today is friendlier to the Big 10 at the moment, but still doesn’t have Indiana on the right side of the bubble. Clearly this is a much bigger game for Indiana than Michigan State.
Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Michigan State: 20
If you’ve watched Indiana play this year, you know they have a very poor offense. Unless one guy takes it all by himself and scores, not much is going to happen. The danger in asking a fired up dog to cover for you is that they won’t figure out how to channel that energy into points. Note that Michigan State grades out very well nationally on the offensive side of the ball. The Spartans aren’t a “defense only” team, a reputation they sometimes get stuck with under head coach Tom Izzo.
Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Michigan State: 11
Michigan State does it all! As their defense is in the top dozen after you adjust for pace and schedule, with a chance to crack the top 10 with a good performance vs. Indiana.
Michigan State: 158
Indiana pushes the ball frantically, mostly because they know they have no idea how to run an offense in the half court. Michigan State is in the middle of the pack, which gives them the flexibility to adjust comfortably to any style. If the Spartans don’t lose focus, they’ll slow down Indiana and take them out of their comfort zone.
Against the Spread
Michigan State: 10-5-2
Michigan State was known to be a national title contender before the season started, yet has still managed to exceed expectations to this point in the season. They haven’t fizzled the way Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke have from that huge TV extravaganza that kicked off the college hoop season for many of you. Indiana is right at 50/50, which means the market fairly well anticipated their fall from the heights of last season.
JIM HURLEY loves situational handicapping, because he knows it’s the bread and butter to picking winners in college basketball conference action. Indiana/Michigan State may be part of NETWORK’S final card on Tuesday. But, there are other possibilities on the college and NBA slates that may be more worthy of attention. The very BEST BETS will go up during the day, and will be available for credit card purchase right here at the website. If you have any questions about season packages, or combination packages that would include the Super Bowl with your basketball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back Wednesday to run the numbers for Duke at Miami of Florida, a quick-developing ACC rivalry that has seen particularly dramatic results when these teams play by South Beach. Thursday’s featured game is likely to be Colorado at #1 Arizona, so we can keep tabs on the team that’s currently the best team in the country. Stick with us all through January, February, and March as THE ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS continues here at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!