Michigan State’s Nick Ward expected to play in Big Ten tournament

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Almost all injury news has been bad news for Michigan State this season. The Big Ten co-champs got some positive feedback Monday, though.

Nick Ward, who has been sidelined since breaking his hand Feb. 17, is expected to play for the Spartans when they begin their Big Ten tournament run Friday.

“I’m 99 percent sure he’s going to play, unless there’s a setback,” coach Tom Izzo said Monday, per MLive.com.

The Spartans have been stressed by injuries this season, most notably the season-ender suffered earlier this winter by Joshua Langford, and Ward’s return should help ease things for a banged-up frontcourt of Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman.

“We need bodies,” Izzo said. “We’ve got Kenny going 37 minutes and Xavier going about the same thing. I’m not sure that’s healthy for you, especially if you’re trying to win three games.”

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound Ward is Michigan State’s second-leading scorer at 15.1 points per game while also grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game. Izzo said how many minutes Ward will be available for immediately is uncertain, hinging on his conditioning and his ability to use that injured hand.

“I think it’s going to be perfect,” Izzo said. “I know Xavier is looking forward to having his running mate back with him. What people don’t realize is those two guys play pretty well together. We questioned that early in the year.”