Michigan State loses wing Branden Dawson to torn ACL

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Michigan State’s had better days.

Just hours after losing its regular-season finale to No. 10 Ohio State – and its chance for an outright Big Ten title – the No. 5 Spartans learned wing Branden Dawson tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.

Dawson, a 6-5 freshman who is Michigan State’s third-leading scorer (8.5 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (4.6), was injured early in the first half and didn’t play again. An MRI confirmed the injury.

The Spartans (24-7, 13-5 in Big Ten) will miss Dawson’s athleticism – he’s great on the break and the offensive glass – and alleviating the defensive responsibilities for senior Draymond Green. MSU doesn’t have any other players with Dawson’s mix of size and athletic ability. He’s an efficient scorer, too, mostly because unlike many freshmen, he doesn’t force shots.

Michigan State could boost playing time for forwards Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix and go big to counteract Dawson’s loss, but I doubt coach Tom Izzo will settle on just one look. He’ll likely use the Big Ten tournament as a way to test the Spartans’ depth and make lineup tweaks and  before the NCAA tournament starts.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.