East Lansing – Michigan State will have its hands full on Tuesday night when it takes on No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
And the Spartans will likely do it without sophomore guard Alvin Ellis.
Coach Tom Izzo said on Monday that Ellis is "very questionable" to play after injuring his right ankle in Friday's season-opening win over Navy. And with freshman Javon Bess already out with a broken foot and junior Bryn Forbes limited with a hand injury, it puts the Michigan State guards in a tough spot.
"Well it magnifies it because (Duke) brings a variety of guards at you," Izzo said. "They're bringing some very good players that were highly recruited kids off the bench now. And I would say that we don't know (about Ellis). I won't say it's a game-day decision, but as of yesterday, if he was playing it would be very, very limited action.
"So yeah, that's a problem for us right now with two of our guards out. Two of our wing guys potentially out. But that's the way it is. It was just a freak thing."
No. 18 Michigan State is playing for the fourth time in the Champions Classic and faces Duke for the second time. The Spartans' only loss in the event came in 2011 when it lost to Duke in New York. They beat Kansas in 2012 in Atlanta and last season in Chicago knocked of then-No. 1 Kentucky.