The Spartans and Hoosiers are tied for first in the Big Ten. The winner not only gets inside track for the league title, but perhaps also the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament region that goes through Indianapolis.
“I think they've kind of been the premier team in the league all season," Izzo said Monday during the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference.
Of Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, a former Michigan State assistant, Izzo said, “He's got veterans that are key players. He’s got a stud inside (Cody Zeller). Maybe the best thing they have going is that a lot of those guys went through those terrible seasons and that keeps you hungry.”
Michigan State lost 75-70 at IU on Jan. 27. Izzo said Indiana is better now because Christian Watford and Will Sheehey have improved, making the Hoosiers a more physical team.
Victor Oladipo, who scored 21 points in the first game against Michigan State, suffered an ankle injury in a victory Saturday over Purdue. But Crean said he expects Oladipo to play.
“They are very balanced,” Izzo said. “But if you look at the Big Ten (statistics), we have five guys averaging in double figures, too. It’s kind of an amazing matchup.”
• Purdue is off until hosting Northwestern at Mackey Arena on Sunday. After watching his team commit 35 turnovers in two losses last week, coach Matt Painter said the break and extra practice comes at a good time.
"We just did not take care of the basketball, pay attention to detail," Painter said. "Just a very frustrating week for us."
"I think they have a different team this year than in the past,” he said. “They don’t rebound the basketball as well. They don’t beat you in transition as much. But they find a way to win.”Painter said that doesn’t mean the Spartans lack talent. He noted that its three starting guards – Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Keith Appling – all were McDonald’s all-Americans in high school. Harris, a former Hamilton Southeastern High School standout, was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week.
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