Michigan State vs. Iowa College Basketball Odds & Pick: Everything Must Go Right for Flailing Spartans (Feb. 2)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza
- Iowa is a double-digit favorite over Michigan State on Tuesday night as the Hawkeyes look to avoid a third-straight Big Ten loss.
- The Spartans are in a free fall, and don't have the offensive chops to keep up with Iowa.
- See how we're betting this Big Ten battle below:
Michigan State vs. Iowa Odds
Michigan State enters this game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in complete free fall.
The Spartans have lost three straight and six of their past eight contests. They are 2-6 in conference and sit in an unfathomable 13th place in the Big Ten standings.
Iowa also enters this game in desperate need of a win. The No. 8 Hawkeyes have lost two conference games in a row, and are now two full games behind Michigan in the conference standings.
The Hawkeyes are again double-digits favorites despite consecutive losses to Indiana and Illinois. Will Iowa get right at the Spartans’ expense, or will Michigan State save its season with a win on the road against a top-10 opponent?
This is the wrong time for the Spartans to face the Hawkeyes.
Michigan State has lost three consecutive games against teams with slower offenses than Iowa. The explosive Hawkeyes rank 38th-fastest in average possession length. Iowa has reached 75 points or more in seven of their past eight games.
This would likely mean that Michigan State will need to approach 70 points to keep this game competitive. However, the offensively challenged Spartans have only crested 62 points once in their past six games and that was against Nebraska.
The Hawkeyes are a superior offensive team, ranking second in the nation with 89.7 points per game. Iowa ranks 24th-best in the nation in 3-point shooting, averaging 38.5%, and 38th in the country in 2-point at 54.7%.
They shoot a robust 73% from the free-throw line and are among the nation’s leaders in offensive turnover percentage. The Hawkeyes are seventh-best in the nation with just 10 turnovers per game.
The Spartans will need their best defensive game of the season, which is certainly possible against the 3. Michigan State has held conference opponents to just 31.8% from beyond the arc, fourth-best among Big Ten teams.
However, its 2-point defense that allows 51% to conference opponents will be severely tested by leading National Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza.
Garza is averaging 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and shooting a robust 60.2% from the field. The Spartans have struggled to defend big men all season and were destroyed by Purdue forward Trevion Williams (26 points) in a one-point loss in East Lansing.
Most recently, Michigan State struggled to stop Rutgers center Myles Johnson (13 points, seven rebounds, five blocks), who’s not in the same class as Garza.
The Hawkeyes force opponents to focus on Garza so their bevy of sharpshooters can take aim. Joe Wieskamp (46.4%), Jordan Bohannon (37.6%), and CJ Frederick (50%) are all superior 3-point shooters.
Frederick has missed two games with a leg injury but could make his return tonight against the Spartans. Junior Connor McCaffery has stepped up in Frederick’s place, scoring a season-high 11 points with five assists in Iowa’s last game against Illinois.
It’s difficult to envision the Spartans stopping the Hawkeyes, so they will need to score near a season-high in points. Their top players, such as Aaron Henry (13.1 ppg) and Joey Hauser (11.3 ppg), have struggled with consistency all season.
After consecutive 27- and 20-point performances against Nebraska and Rutgers, Henry scored 20 points combined over the next two games.
Hauser scored 11 points in Michigan State’s most recent 79-62 loss at Ohio State, which broke a string of five consecutive games with single-digit scoring.
Betting Analysis & Pick
If Michigan State was going to turn its season around, it would have been against Ohio State on Saturday.
The only way the Spartans keep this game close is if they produce their best defensive performance of the season, and get simultaneous production from two of Henry, Hauser, or sophomore Rocket Watts (9.1 ppg). I’m not willing to bet on all that going right.
I’m backing the Hawkeyes to avoid a three-game losing streak and cover the large number here.
Pick: Iowa -10.5 | Play up to Iowa -11.5