College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Michigan State vs. Michigan (Saturday, Jan. 8)
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images Pictured: Gabe Brown (MSU)
Editor’s Note: Saturday’s Michigan State vs. Michigan men’s basketball game has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Wolverines program.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Odds
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
One of college basketball’s fiercest rivalries is renewed on Saturday, when Michigan State travels to Michigan. It’s a matchup that means much more than bragging rights, with competition heating up in the Big Ten.
Michigan State is looking to exert itself as one of the league’s best teams. The Spartans went undefeated in the month of December and will look to keep that momentum going in the new year.
Michigan, on the other hand, is trending in the other direction. The Wolverines have lost three of four and haven’t completed a three-game winning streak all season. As it stands today, the Wolverines find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
A home game against a highly-ranked and hated rival would be the perfect way for Michigan to turn things around. Saturday is its chance.
The preseason praise directed toward the Spartans is coming to fruition. Sparty has ripped off eight straight victories, with its only two losses this season coming to two of the nation’s best teams (Kansas and Baylor).
Tom Izzo has a balanced attack, with his top seven scorers averaging between 6.7 and 14.5 points per game. Wherever Michigan State has an advantage, Izzo and his team are going to find it.
That is a lot easier with a team that shoots as well as the Spartans. Michigan State has hit 39.3% from outside the arc this season, which is ninth-highest percentage in the nation. That shooting creates spacing for guards to slash in the paint or big men to operate on the block.
Freshman Max Christie is the key piece that can elevate the Spartans’ ceiling. Christie has scored in double-figures in three straight games, including a career high 21 points against Nebraska.
As he continues to grow into Izzo’s primary option offensively, he unlocks his teammates to fill their roles in the offense.
Juwan Howard’s program saw a fairly healthy amount of change over this past offseason. At face value, it looked like Michigan could survive the upheaval.
Hunter Dickinson — a year older and more developed — remained to man the middle, and there were logical replacements for those who moved on.
Out went Franz Wagner, Isaiah Livers and Chaundee Brown Jr., and in came highly-touted freshmen Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate. Transfer point guard Mike Smith was replaced by another transfer point guard DeVante’ Jones. The logic all made sense.
In practice, it’s been less than logical. Wagner, Brown and Livers are all playing professionally. Replacing talent like that is easier said than done, especially when relying on teenagers to produce as true freshmen.
Diabate and Houstan are both mega-talented and look like future draft picks, but they don’t provide the spacing or balance that the Wolverines’ offense needs.
Jones, meanwhile, hasn’t been as effective in creating and sustaining offense as Smith was last season.
The result has been an offense that is more dependent on scoring on post-ups and inside the arc.
The larger issue this year for Michigan has been on the defensive end of the floor. Howard’s newcomers are a step behind the experienced crop of defenders he had last season, particularly Wagner, who was one of the most versatile defenders in the nation.
This season, Michigan ranks in the bottom 20 in the country in forcing turnovers and allowing assisted baskets.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Betting Pick
When Michigan has the ball, the Wolverines are going to look to score in the paint, feeding Dickinson and Diabate on the block. The Spartans have size, but Izzo’s lineup fluctuates in the frontcourt enough that Dickinson, especially, should find some advantageous matchups.
On the other end, Michigan State’s offense is built to create open looks beyond the 3-point line, opening up driving lanes and post-ups. Michigan will be determined to close out on the Spartans’ shooters and run them off of the 3-point line.
This game has a must-win feel for Michigan. With losses to two of the Big Ten’s more mediocre teams already behind them, the Wolverines need to turn things around.
Against a team as talented as Sparty, that is a tall task. But with the game in its building, Michigan will look to keep the game at its preferred pace. Even if Michigan can’t come out on top, Howard wants to turn this game into a slugfest.
For bettors, that means the under is the play here at 142.5. I’d play it even if the line moves all the way down to 140.5.