Jan 28, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Aaron White (30) is defended by Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) during the second half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Michigan State beat Iowa 71-69. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa @ Michigan State: Keys To The Game

This game is really intriguing for me.  Both Iowa and Michigan State haven’t been playing the best basketball in the last couple of weeks.  Both teams have lost 3 of their last 4 and are having some trouble finding their form.

Michigan State beat Iowa in overtime back on January 28th in Iowa City.  Iowa had a couples chances to beat the Spartans, who were without Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne, but were unable to convert.

Lets see what each team needs to do to get out of their current funk.

For Michigan State:

Keith Appling!

I mentioned the Spartans were losers of 3 of their last 4.  Well, Keith Appling appears to be botherd by his lingering wrist injury because he hasn’t been all there for Tom Izzo over the last 4 games.  He is averaging just 3.5 points per game during the last four.  Appling consistently hurt the Hawkeyes in Iowa City and the Spartans need him to do the same in East Lansing.

Offensive and Defensive glass!

We all know Iowa is a very good rebounding team.  Well, with Payne and Dawson back, and Matt Costello coming off the bench, the Spartans are really good on the glass as well.  Costello hurt Iowa in the first meeting between these teams and Payne is a matchup nightmare for most big men in the Big Ten.

For Iowa: 

Gabriel Olaseni!

Gabe comes off the bench and is instant production.  In the last game against Purdue, he was everywhere when he got into the game.  He didn’t see much action in the second half, but when he enters the game for the first time he’s almost always on the glass pulling in boards or creating second chance buckets.  Iowa may need a double double from him to get past the Spartans.

Just win the thing!

This game means a lot for seeding.  Surprisingly, Iowa does have a chance to move into the three seed if they beat the Spartans, win their senior night game against Illinois, and Michigan State loses to Ohio State to end the year.  Iowa really only has 1 big win this year, so beating the Spartans would be a big win for the Hawkeyes.

A lot of people are skeptical about Iowa going to East Lansing and bringing home a victory.  Well, the Illinois Fighting Illini, who have been awful all year long, did it and the Nebraska Cornhuskers did it.  The Spartans don’t seem to be that same dominating team at home that they usually are.  Iowa will ned to take advantage of this to earn themselves a big time Big Ten road victory.

This game will tip at 8:00 p.m. CT on Thursday evening.

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