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Izzo “hoping” to have injured Schilling for Big Ten play

Middle Tennessee v Michigan State

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 18: Gavin Schilling #34 of the Michigan State Spartans dunks in the first half against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 18, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Michigan State is hoping to have one of its injured big men back by conference play, but will likely be waiting longer for the other.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo said Tuesday that he’s “hoping for” Gavin Schilling to be able to play Michigan State’s Big Ten slate, according to Schilling underwent knee surgery in October.

Izzo, though, doesn’t sound as hopeful about Ben Carter, saying Carter’s injury is more severe than Schilling’s as it involves the meniscus.

The Spartans open Big Ten competition Dec. 27, against Minnesota.

Schilling suffered the non-contact injury in October, at which point Michigan State offered no timetable for his return. So while Izzo was less than firm in offering one Tuesday, it does provide more than a little hope that the depleted Spartans will have reinforcements to compete for a Big Ten title.

It seems less likely that Carter will be able to return if his timetable extends much further than Schilling’s. The injury, suffered just over a month ago, is the second knee injury suffered in a year by Carter, a UNLV transfer who was expected to help provide depth up front for the Spartans.

For at least the immediate future, Izzo will be relying on the likes of freshmen Miles Bridges and Nick Ward to hold things down in the frontcourt.