It’s shaping up to be a difficult season to predict in college hoops. For example, raise your hand if you saw Florida State laying a 33-point beatdown on North Carolina coming? Or Kentucky, Duke, Ohio State and Missouri all having struggles with unranked opponents (albeit three of the four still won) in the last eight days.
It is going to be a difficult bracket to fill out come March, but in the meantime there are some nice wagering trends beginning to emerge as teams get settled into conference play. Let’s take a look inside one of those fantastic matchups with a closer look at tonight’s Michigan State @ Michgan matchup.
Michigan State Spartans -2 @ Michigan Wolverines
Michigan State had been the hottest team in the country until they were derailed by Northwestern last Saturday, having previously won 15 straight games. Tom Izzo’s Spartans have flown a little under the national radar after being blown off the aircraft carrier by North Carolina (in a weird, barely-relevant game, given the bizarre setting) and then being handled with relative ease by Duke in Madison Square Garden in November. In the stretch between those games and last weekend’s loss, they proceeded without a blemish, knocking off Florida State, Gonzaga, Indiana and Wisconsin.
However, facing what is sure to be a fever-pitched crowd at in arch rival Ann Arbor is not an easy task. Particularly considering John Beilein has led a bit of a resurgence in the past few years, and Michigan may actually be BETTER than Michigan State for the first time in more than a decade. Consider this; this is the first time these teams have met when both were in the Top 20 since 1998. Suffice it to say it wasn’t Sparty failing to hold up his end of the bargain most seasons…
Michigan also enters tonight’s contest fresh off a surprising Big Ten loss on Saturday to Iowa. No offense to the Hawkeyes and Coach Licklighter, but that loss was more an indication of the Wolverines looking ahead to tonight than it was the Hawkeye’s brilliance. Tonight, we get to see if that ugly loss was worth it.
Michigan is exceptionally strong on the perimeter with Tim Hardaway Jr, Trey Burke and Zach Novak leading the way, averaging 15.7, 14.9 and 9.7 ppg respectively. Add in Stu Douglass and nearly 80% of the Wolverines offense comes from their backcourt. Their backcourt held their own for 40 minutes against the vaunted backcourt of Duke back in November in Maui. They should fare very well against the lesser-skilled backcourt of Michigan State.
Michigan’s strengths are in stark contrast with Michigan State’s, which lie in their interior toughness and rugged power on the glass. The key to tonight’s game will be Michigan’s ability to make perimeter shots. If they struggle from the field, don’t expect many second chances.
I’m wagering they won’t need them. Michigan has been beaten around by Izzo’s Spartans for a long time, a situation that finally changed last year with the Wolverines sweep of State. Tonight, their veteran-laden ballclub defends their home floor in Ann Arbor and captures a big win that will have the students storming the floor afterwards. Give me Michigan, especially getting a few points at home.
Free Pick: Michigan Wolverines +2 @ www.5dimes.com (Get up to $520 FREE on sign up)