College Basketball Christmas Day Odds & Picks: Michigan Meets Nebraska in First Road Game
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan basketball
A day without college basketball in December? That was rough. Two in a row? We don’t have to worry about that thanks to the Big Ten.
Four games hit the slate on Christmas Day, all Big Ten matchups beginning with Wisconsin vs. Michigan State (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX) and ending with the conference’s best team, Iowa, taking on Minnesota.
It’s not a full slate, but it’ll do, especially with two top-15 teams leading us off.
Find spreads, totals and information for each game below.
Wisconsin at Michigan State
|Michigan State Odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Wisconsin Odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-132 / +112 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||139 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET|
There’s been notable lineup in our first matchup of the day.
Wisconsin opened as a 1.5-point favorite (-140 moneyline) and was still favored as of Thursday night, but Michigan State has flipped the line and is now a 2-point favorite (-132 ML).
Wisconsin started conference play with a 67-53 win over Nebraska moving the Badgers to 7-1 overall. Their only loss came on the road against Marquette, but the Badgers made up for it with a dominant performance over No. 23 Louisville in a 85-48 win.
The Badgers will lean on a balanced offense with four different players averaging double figures, led by Micah Potter at 13.4 points per game.
Michigan State lost its Big Ten opener against Northwestern (the Wildcats then beat Indiana to move to 2-0 in conference play). The Spartans have wins over Notre Dame and Duke in nonconference play, but their offense will face a big test. Michigan State is scoring 82 points per game but Wisconsin allows just 57. Wisconsin’s opponents have an effective FG% of 41.4, while MSU has an effective FG% of 53.9.
If Tom Izzo’s team is to defend home court, transfer Joey Hauser needs to be better than he was against Northwestern. The team’s leading scorer had just five points and two rebounds in the 79-65 loss.
Wisconsin is 3-5 against the spread and 5-3 to the over. The Spartans have covered just twice in seven games.
Maryland at Purdue Odds
|Purdue Odds||-6 [BET NOW]|
|Maryland Odds||+6 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-265 / +205 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||135 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET|
Purdue (6-3) finds itself in a sandwich spot coming off a loss to No. 4 Iowa with two road tests up next against No. 11 Rutgers and No. 18 Illinois. Bettors don’t appear scared to back the Boilermakers though, as the lines already moved from the opener of 4.5.
Purdue won’t have to worry about offensive firepower like Iowa’s when facing Maryland. The Terps average 75.9 points per game, but that number seems skewed. They’ve scored just 51 and 60 points in two games against Power 5 teams this season.
Perhaps that’s why bettors have targeted the total. There’s been movement from 137.5 on Friday morning to 135 with Sports Insights spotting a steam move.
The Boilermakers will need a better performance from Eric Hunter Jr., though. The guard was just 2-10 for 4 points against Iowa; he’s averaging over 12 points per game on the season.
Maryland’s in the midst of a brutal stretch with games this week against Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Terps open the new year against Indiana, Iowa and Illinois.
Michigan at Nebraska Odds
|Michigan Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Nebraska Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-335 / +270 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||149.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 6 p.m. ET|
The biggest spread of the day belongs to Michigan (6-0) against struggling Nebraska (4-4). The Wolverines beat Penn State 62-58 to begin conference play. The Cornhuskers have lost three of their last four, including a 67-53 loss to Wisconsin.
It’s a bad matchup on paper for a Nebraska team with a 47.6 effective FG% and 47.5 opponent effective FG%; Michigan has a 58 effective FG% on the season, allowing a 42.2 opponent effective FG%.
Nebraska has covered just once in four chances as an underdog.
While this projects as the Wolverines’ easiest win on their remaining schedule, it’s fair to wonder how focused they’ll be on Christmas Day against a bad team in its first road game of the season. Handicapping motivation is imperfect, but it’s one edge Nebraska might have.
The line reached 8 but ticked down to 7.5 at time of publish. The total has moved up from 148.
Iowa at Minnesota Odds
|Iowa Odds||-7 [BET NOW]|
|Minnesota Odds||+7 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-345 / +270 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||163.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 8 p.m. ET|
Save the best for last? It might not be the best game on the slate, but it involves the best team and best player of the day.
Iowa’s only loss is to No. 1 Gonzaga before quickly refocusing for a double-digit win over Purdue. Luka Garza was a big reason with 22 points and 9 rebounds. That’s a bad sight for Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers are 7-1 and coming off a respectable win against St. Louis, but there’s a matchup problem down low. In Minnesota’s only loss, the Gophers let Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn go off for 33 points and 13 boards. Garza will be ready to feast.
But any time you have a guard with the ability of Marcus Carr, your team has a chance. Minnesota’s junior guard leads the team with 23.9 points and 6 assists a game. Iowa isn’t where its at because of its defense. Carr has a chance to go off.
Speaking of points, Iowa’s been a favorite of over bettors. The Hawkeyes have gone over the total in seven of eight games while covering the spread six times. One non-cover was to No. 1 Gonzaga. The other was on a clock-beating, meaningless-to-everyone-but-us half-court shot.