East Lansing — Nick Ward continued to go through limited workouts during Michigan State’s practice on Wednesday, but the junior center’s status for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Michigan hasn’t changed much.
According to coach Tom Izzo, that means it’s unlikely Ward will play as the Spartans and Wolverines play with at least a share of the Big Ten championship on the line.
“A million-to-one chance,” Izzo said after practice. “I have no idea. We had no contact today. He will not be allowed to have contact tomorrow, but we’ll get a better feel for how his hand feels and then it just goes according to the pain and getting him back.”
Ward has missed the last four games after breaking his left shooting hand in a win over Ohio State. He had surgery the same day, and it will be three weeks since then on Sunday. That is an optimistic return for anyone, but Ward has been shooting and is doing his best to stay in shape.
The status for junior wing Kyle Ahrens is potentially a bit more positive. Ahrens did not play in Tuesday’s victory over Nebraska as he battles a bad back.
“Kyle, I hope has a little better chance, but he’s still struggling a little bit today,” Izzo said. “But I think for him he’s played hurt before, and I think he’ll be there ready to play. I’m 99 percent sure, unless something happens, he’ll be suited up for sure.”
None of that guarantees Ahrens can play. Or, if he does, for how long.
“I’m just taking it day by day, doing what I can,” Ahrens said, noting he feels about 50 percent right now. “We have the long run to look at, too, not just this game, so were excited for it.
“I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say. Depending on how I feel I’ll do anything to be out there, but we still have the Big Ten tournament and NCAAs to look at. Just got to be smart at this point.”
No. 9 Michigan State (24-6, 15-4 Big Ten) gets the chance to earn a share of the conference title after beating Nebraska on Tuesday, followed by Purdue’s loss to Minnesota. It has the Spartans, Boilermakers and Wolverines in a three-way tie for first place. The winner on Saturday locks up at least a share of the championship and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.