One year ago, Iowa and Michigan State each spent time ranked inside the top five and both battled for the top of the Big Ten standings.
Now, the teams are competing for positioning in the league’s wide middle grouping and for postseason opportunities. Michigan State (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten) sits fifth in the Big Ten standings, just one-half game ahead of Iowa (14-11, 6-6). If the NCAA Tournament started this week, the Spartans (RPI: 50) likely would end up a 10th seed, according to Joe Lunardi’s latest projected bracket.
Under the same scenario, Iowa (RPI: 99) would hope merely for an NIT berth. The team with the worst RPI to pick up an at-large NCAA Tournament berth was USC (RPI: 67) in 2011, according to the Washington Post. The Hawkeyes need to quickly pick up a few wins to get into NCAA consideration.
With plenty of the Big Ten season remaining, this game is important but not yet in NCAA must-win territory. But expect a fierce battle nevertheless. Iowa swept the season series last year and won both games by double figures, including a 76-59 win at Breslin Center. It was the Hawkeyes’ first victory in East Lansing since 1993.
This is the teams’ only scheduled meeting this year.
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 9, 2017
Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State game time, details
Time: 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT
Date: Saturday, Feb. 11
Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich.
Which TV channel broadcasts Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State?
BTN will broadcast the game.
How can I watch Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State online?
BTN will stream the game from its BTN2GO app and from the BTN website.
How can I listen to Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State on the radio?
You can listen on Sirius/XM channel 135. For Iowa basketball, 600 AM (WMT-Cedar Rapids), 1040 AM (WHO-Des Moines) and 800 AM (KXIC-Iowa City) are the flagship radio stations. Click here for other Iowa radio affiliates. For Michigan State, 94.9 FM (WMMQ-Lansing), 1240 AM (WJIM-Lansing) and 760 AM (WJR-Detroit) serve as the flagship stations. Click here for other Michigan State affiliates.
Who is calling the Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State game?
Kevin Kugler will handle play-by-play for BTN with Jon Crispin providing analysis. Gary Dolphin handles play-by-play with analyst Bobby Hansen on the Hawkeye Sports Network. Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas and Matt Steigenga call the game on the Spartan Radio Network.
Hawks Time Ran Out in the Barn https://t.co/awxBu5VO6D
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) February 9, 2017
Iowa basketball vs. Michigan State 2 keys
Get ready for a rumble
Iowa’s young players have dealt with challenging on-court situations that will strengthen them as they mature. But nothing they’ve dealt with will compare with the atmosphere they face tonight at Breslin Center.
Before last year’s 17-point win at Michigan State, Iowa had dropped 18 consecutive games at East Lansing, including the previous 14 by an average of 19 points. A few of those games were close before the Spartans buried Iowa with a fierce 3-point barrage. Other times, Michigan State’s physical play either rattled the Hawkeyes or shifted the officiating in their favor.
There’s no simulation for environments like this or seasons like Iowa’s youth has experienced.
“No matter how many situations you put them through in practice, there’s nothing like the Big Ten schedule, especially when you’re on the road,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Especially when you’re on the road in overtime. We’ve been at home with overtime, two double-overtime games on the road. We have executed to perfection at times. We have not executed well at all at times. It’s understanding just how precise you have to be when you’re in a one-point game in overtime.”
Keep Jok and Bohannon healthy
Iowa’s backcourt tandem of Jordan Bohannon and Peter Jok played 45 and 40 minutes, respectively, in the Hawkeyes’ double-overtime loss at Minnesota on Wednesday. Jok previously was hampered with a back muscle issue that sidelined him for three games and cost him full flexibility in three others earlier this year.
McCaffery doesn’t have any concerns about either of their minutes. He added that Jok has returned to his pre-injury form. Jok scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Gophers. He had 24 points in the second half alone.
“He looks fine to me,” McCaffery said. “Think about it: Next year he wants to play 48 minutes a game, five days a week. I think Peter Jok is a tough kid. He’ll play through some discomfort. He wants to be out there.”
Michigan State basketball vs. Iowa 2 keys
Defending the perimeter
Michigan State traditionally has a strong defense, and this year has been more of the same. The Spartans have held 13 opponents under 40 percent shooting. Overall, Michigan State’s 40.7 percent field-goal defense is tied for sixth in the Big Ten.
The Spartans’ defense is noticeable in their wins and losses. In their six league victories, opponents shot just 36.9 percent. In their five Big Ten losses, foes made 50.2 percent of their shots. Michigan skewed some of the numbers after scorching the Spartans at 60.4 percent shooting in the 86-57 Wolverines’ win on Tuesday.
Iowa boasts three perimeter shooters who all rank among the league leaders. Despite missing three games, guard Peter Jok is tied for first in Big Ten 3-point baskets with 64. Point guard Jordan Bohannon ranks eighth with 56. Reserve shooting guard Brady Ellingson boasts the league’s best 3-point shooting percentage at 56.0 percent.
Take care of the ball
Turnovers continue to plague the Spartans, who rank 13th in Big Ten turnover margin. Michigan State is minus-2.8, averaging 14.5 turnovers per game with only 11.7 assists.
The Hawkeyes are active defensively and lead the league in steals per game at 7.2. In Iowa’s sweep of the Spartans last year, Michigan State committed 32 turnovers that led to 38 points. If a similar ratio takes place tonight, a similar result could follow.
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 8, 2017