Before the season started for IU, the goals for the season were clearly laid out by senior captain and defender Grant Lillard.
“I want to win a Big Ten regular season," Lillard said. "I want to win a Big Ten (tournament) championship, and I want to win a national championship."
Nearly two months later, the Hoosiers are in a position to check one of those boxes. No. 2 IU travels to East Lansing, Michigan, to play No. 7 Michigan State at 3 p.m. Sunday, and the Hoosiers are in a position to grab at least a share of the Big Ten regular season crown.
Michigan State is tied with IU with 17 points in Big Ten play, and the Spartans will enter Sunday's match with aspirations of their own for a Big Ten Regular Season Championship.
“I think everyone knows what’s on the line,” IU junior defender Andrew Gutman said. “We’re just trying to stay relaxed and just trying to have a positive attitude going into the game.”
The Hoosiers haven’t won a Big Ten regular season championship since 2010.
IU is looking to add more history onto a very impressive resume so far in 2017.
The Hoosiers might need some help if they want to win the Big Ten title outright, however.
No. 9 Maryland, which is also tied on points with IU and Michigan State, and No. 19 Michigan, which has 16 points, will play each other one hour after IU's match begins.
The outcome of the meeting between the Terrapins and Wolverines will have a big impact on who wins the Big Ten Regular Season title.
“In reality, I think it’s a good example on we can control what we can control,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “Let’s just focus in on us. Obviously, we will be paying attention after the game, but we don’t talk about the scenarios. Let’s go out, play at our best, let’s go win this game and then see what happens. That means sharing it, whatever it is, I know the guys will be excited to win this game. Whatever that provides us, we’ll deal with the aftermath.”
The Spartans come into Sunday’s match with a 14-0-3 record at home in their last 17 matches, meaning a result will be difficult to come by for the Hoosiers.
Michigan State junior forwards Ryan Sierakowski and DeJuan Jones both lead the team with six goals while no other Spartan player has more than two.
Sierakowski scored a goal in last year’s game between the schools in Bloomington, a 2-1 IU win.
But this season, the Hoosiers have allowed just three goals.
“Their front three are very mobile, their midfield is very compact and stay-at-homish” Gutman said. “They’re just an all around good team.
It all comes down to Sunday. The Spartans plan to give the Hoosiers one of their stiffest tests thus far in a match where both teams could take home the conference regular season title.
“The guys are excited,” Yeagley said. “These are awesome games to have an opportunity to play in and the guys are really excited."
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