College Basketball Pick: Michigan vs Michigan State
NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
These intrastate rivals battled to a one point game a few weeks ago. Michigan State actually led late in the game at Ann Arbor, but is Michigan that finished strong and came out with a 60-59 win. The Spartans are coming off a one point loss at the hands of Illinois earlier this week. These two teams are jockeying for position in the tough Big Ten Conference. Let’s take a closer look at this battle of the state of Michigan.
Michigan was dominated by Michigan State for years, but they now have three straight wins over Tom Izzo’s Spartans. This will likely be the toughest one to win yet though, since the Spartans are playing very good basketball and they are very tough to beat at the Breslin Center. The Wolverines aren’t a very good rebounding team, and they are always beaten badly on the boards by Michigan State. In the first meeting this year, the Spartans outrebounded the Wolverines 31-15. It was the Wolverines impressive ball control that won them the first meeting. Michigan had just eight turnovers in that matchup.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the Wolverines leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. Hardaway is at his best when he is creating off the dribble. Trey Burke has been the catalyst for this offense so far this season. Burke is only a freshman, but he is playing with the poise of a junior or senior. He is averaging 14.3 points per contest, and he already has 113 assists. Evan Smotrycz and Zack Novak are both shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Michigan lives and dies by the three-point shot.
Draymond Green tweaked his knee in Wednesday’s loss against Illinois, but he is expected to play through the pain in this one. Green leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. He averages 14.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Michigan State is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. This team regularly outrebounds its opponent by ten boards or more. Keith Appling gives the team a solid point guard who can score when needed. Brandon Wood transferred in from Valparaiso, and he has been a nice scoring addition as well. Michigan State shoots 47.5% from the floor.
The Spartans defense is much better than it was a year ago. This year’s team is much harder working, and it is a group that seems to be far more coachable. Opponents are averaging just 59.4 points per game this year. This Spartans team is very quick and athletic, and that helps them a great deal in their man-to-man defense.
The Wolverines have struggled on the road of late, and the Spartans should be very hungry in this one. Look for Michigan State to control the boards and play great defense here.
Prediction: Michigan State 71 Michigan 59
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