Michigan State-Indiana basketball game postponed because of COVID-19 issues

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Michigan State is getting a break it never intended to take.

On Thursday, the team announced its scheduled home game against Indiana on Sunday has been postponed.

Michigan State’s scheduled home game against Indiana on Sunday has been postponed, the team announced on Thursday.

The news comes a day after the Spartans’ game scheduled for Thursday night at Iowa was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests within the program. Over the weekend, freshman forward Mady Sissoko and sophomore guard Steven Izzo tested positive, followed by a third positive test late Wednesday afternoon just before the team was set to leave for Iowa City.

The third positive test led to the postponement of the Iowa game and eventually calling off Sunday’s matchup at home with Indiana. Neither game has been rescheduled at this point.

“I’m really disappointed, but it just goes to prove that this can affect anyone,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said on Wednesday night.  “I feel so comfortable that me, my son and my players did everything possible and followed every protocol as best we could.  I’m really, really impressed with the way they have conducted themselves. This virus does not discriminate and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear a mask, wash your hands and follow protocols.”

Izzo has already dealt with the virus himself, receiving a positive test on Nov. 9 and returning to the team just days before it opened the season Nov. 25 against Eastern Michigan.

The pair of postponements are the first time this season Michigan State has had to call off a game because of its own COVID issues. The Spartans’ matchup with Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 9 was postponed because of issues in the Cavaliers program. Michigan State traveled to Charlottesville for the game, only to turn around and come home the next morning.

The Big Ten has had its issues already this season as Penn State has had four games postponed because of COVID-19 while Nebraska has had to call off a pair of games. Early Wednesday afternoon, the conference announced the rescheduling of two of the Nittany Lions’ home games against Rutgers and Wisconsin.

When the conference released its schedule in November, it did its best to provide flexibility with the potential of needing to reschedule games. It built in two sets of collapsible byes during the weeks of Jan. 18-21 and Jan. 25-28, and the weeks of Feb. 22-25 and March 1-5. Those gaps give Michigan State some time to work in makeup games, but it also creates some busy weeks as the Spartans (8-4, 2-4 Big Ten) try to claw back into the conference race.

With the two postponements, Michigan State is not scheduled to play again until Jan. 23 at home against Illinois. Based on the Big Ten’s rules for returning to play, neither Sissoko or Izzo would be ready for that game, nor would the third player who tested positive on Wednesday.

Each of those who test positive must be in isolation for 10 days and are to be held out of team activities for 17 days. They’re only allowed back at that point provided they’ve passed all the required cardiac screening. That puts Sissoko, who tested positive on Sunday, back on the court by Jan. 28, the day Michigan State is scheduled to play at Rutgers. Meanwhile, Steven Izzo, who tested positive on Monday, would be back a day later on Jan. 29.

The third player who tested positive wouldn’t be ready to get back on the court until Jan. 30, the day before Michigan State plays at Ohio State.

Michigan State did not practice on Thursday, according to a team spokesman. While the program has not officially been put on pause, the workouts over the next few days will be limited.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau