Indiana vs. Michigan State: Key Players to Watch for

Lee SchechterContributor IIIFebruary 19, 2013

Indiana guard Victor Oladipo is battling a sprained ankle but should be ready to play in Tuesday's throwdown with Michigan State.
Indiana guard Victor Oladipo is battling a sprained ankle but should be ready to play in Tuesday's throwdown with Michigan State.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tuesday night features a Big Ten matchup between the Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan State Spartans with huge implications on the regular season Big Ten title. 

The Hoosiers head into East Lansing's hostile environment known as the Breslin Center with a No. 1 ranking, while the Spartans moved up to No. 4 in the recent AP Top 25 poll

According to, "It's the third matchup of top-four teams in college basketball this season, and the second for Indiana, which beat then top-ranked Michigan."

Michigan State is playing excellent team basketball as head coach Tom Izzo has his team in top form for the upcoming conference tournament and March Madness.  

Meanwhile, Indiana continues to show why they are one of the nation's best teams by winning eight of their last nine in college basketball's toughest conference.  

Both teams understand the magnitude of this game and need to come out ready to play.

Here are the key players to watch for who will determine the outcome of Tuesday's battle at the Breslin Center. 


Victor Oladipo, Indiana

The junior guard was huge for Indiana in the previous meeting between these two teams.

Oladipo put up 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks, which was the complete offensive and defensive combination that the Hoosiers needed. 

When Indiana plays against ranked teams, with everyone watching, Oladipo steps his game up.  

In the Hoosiers' four games against ranked opponents from the Big Ten this season, Oladipo has averaged 20.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 3.3 steals per game and shot 68.2 percent from the floor. 

Oladipo has emerged as Indiana's most important player, and the Hoosiers will need him more than ever in Tuesday's difficult matchup with Michigan State. 

According to, "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 win against Purdue and sat out the second half."

Oladipo will have to fight through the injury if the Hoosiers hope to beat the Spartans at the Breslin Center. 


Gary Harris, Michigan State

Harris was one of the difference-makers for Michigan State when his team blew out the Michigan Wolverines on February 12. 

He has been lights out from three-point land this season and also disrupts opposing teams' guards with superior defense. 

Harris is shooting 44.2 percent on three-pointers for the season and is on a hot streak over his last six games. 

He is averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting 55.3 percent from beyond the arch in that six game span. 

According to, Harris understands the daunting task of playing against Oladipo and the Hoosiers and said, "We just have to be smart, especially on the offensive end because he plays the passing lanes."

Harris is playing some great basketball and plays well in big games despite being a freshman.  

The pressure will be there in Tuesday's game against Indiana.  The Spartans need Harris to step up. 


Derrick Nix, Michigan State

The Spartans have a solid tandem of big forwards in junior Adreian Payne and senior Derrick Nix. 

Payne can guard Zeller and attack at the offensive end, but Nix has been a little more inconsistent this season. 

Nix shined against Michigan by contributing 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting while also playing some excellent interior defense. 

At 6'9" and 270 pounds, Nix is a big body that can change a game by taking over the post.  

He has the difficult job of sticking with Zeller when Payne is not on him and will have to be fairly mobile in the game, but Nix can handle the job. 

Nix needs to have a big game defensively and pitch in some points in the paint if the Spartans hope to beat top-ranked Indiana. 


The Big Ten has provided some great battles between top-ranked teams in the country, and Tuesday's matchup will be no different when two great teams take to the floor.