No. 6 MSU Upset by Unranked Indiana; Justin Smith Drops 24 Points

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2019

PISCATAWAY, NJ - JANUARY 30: Justin Smith #3 of the Indiana Hoosiers in action against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a game at Rutgers Athletic Center on January 30, 2019 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers defeated Indiana 66-58. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The unranked Indiana Hoosiers erased a seven-point halftime deficit Saturday to score a crucial 63-62 victory over the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.

Justin Smith led the upset charge with 24 points for the Hoosiers, who should resurface on the NCAA tournament bubble despite a lackluster 6-12 Big Ten record.

Meanwhile, MSU's bid to earn a No. 1 seed took a serious hit. Cassius Winston posted 20 points and 11 assists as the Spartans dropped to 23-6.

Indiana (15-14) opened the season 12-2, including a 3-0 mark in conference play, before Archie Miller's squad went into a free fall.

The Hoosiers lost 12 of their next 13 games to fade to the fringe of the NCAA tournament discussion. That said, their only win during that span was against Michigan State in overtime on the road, which is one of the best victories any team in the country has on its resume.

Their sweep of the Spartans, along with wins over the Wisconsin Badgers, Louisville Cardinals and Marquette Golden Eagles, gives IU a lot of high points for the selection committee to consider.

Michigan State is a lock for the Big Dance, but its case to emerge from the muddled race for the final top seed behind the Virginia Cavaliers, Gonzaga Bulldogs and Duke Blue Devils isn't as strong as it was before Saturday.

The Spartans do have a regular-season game against the rival Michigan Wolverines left. A win there combined with a Big Ten tournament title could still push them onto the No. 1 line on Selection Sunday.

Indiana will attempt to keep its late-season surge going Thursday night when it travels to face the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Michigan State returns home to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tuesday night.

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