Michigan St. vs. Indiana: Why the Spartans Can Upset the Top Team in the Nation

Max MeyerCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2013

Michigan State can't afford Keith Appling to be in foul trouble in their contest against Indiana.
Michigan State can't afford Keith Appling to be in foul trouble in their contest against Indiana.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan State lost to Indiana 75-70 last month in Bloomington. This time around the Spartans will be looking to outlast the Hoosiers on their home floor. Michigan State has not lost a game in East Lansing this season.

Looking at the first matchup between the two teams, it was Indiana star Victor Oladipo who paced the Hoosiers towards the victory. He scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, and added seven rebounds and six steals. 

However, Oladipo suffered an ankle injury during Indiana's victory over Purdue. While he is probable to play in this game, don't expect him to play a full game coming off a sprained ankle. 

Two other areas that Michigan State struggled with in the first meeting were turnovers and fouls. Michigan State turned the ball over 18 times, and in a five-point loss, that's absolutely crucial. They are averaging 14 turnovers per game this season, and they need to protect the ball better to beat the top team in the nation. 

Additionally, Michigan State's top scorer, Keith Appling dealt with foul trouble the entire game. Appling, who is averaging 14.1 points per game, only played 19 minutes and scored just three points. Michigan State had 18 fouls against Indiana, which is why Indiana went to the line 20 times versus Michigan State's six trips to the charity stripe.  

Michigan State is 33rd in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 47 percent from the field. While they shot 47.8 percent from three-point range in the first meeting with Indiana, they needed to drive to the hoop more often in that game. They also need to get it in down low to their forwards. 

The trio of Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix combined to shoot 14-24 from inside the three-point line. Indiana doesn't have the size to matchup well with Michigan State, so the Spartans don't need to rely as heavily on their perimeter shooting. 

Expect a close game, but home-field advantage will allow Michigan State to knock off the top team in the country on Tuesday night. This is the first game of a brutal stretch in which Michigan State plays four ranked teams. However, a win against Indiana will do wonders in the polls before they have to travel to face Ohio State and Michigan.