College Basketball Betting: Michigan St. at Michigan

College Basketball Betting: Michigan St. at Michigan

A pair of college basketball’s more disappointing teams go head-to-head on Tuesday night when Michigan State makes the trip to Ann Arbor to face rival Michigan in a late season Big Ten tussle. The Spartans have won four of five and need to finish strong to solidify their Tournament prospects. Meanwhile, the Wolverines began the season in the Top 25, but a youth heavy roster and injuries to key players have plummeted them down the standings. Losers of five of their last six, Michigan won’t be dancing come March, so the best they can hope for is to play the role of spoiler. The Spartans took the first meeting in Lansing by outscoring Michigan 10-0 in overtime, which was the fifth time in 2014-15 they have gone to the extra session. Here’s a preview and prediction for Tuesday night’s action.

MICHIGAN STATE AT MICHIGAN +4.5

Tom Izzo’s charges are playing their best ball of the season, especially on defense. Four of the five previous opponents have been held to 56 or fewer points. Their Saturday victory over Ohio State was their first over ranked competition. Junior guard Denzel Valentine led the way with 17 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining. Senior forward Branden Dawson went for 19 points and 10 boards in the Super Bowl Sunday matchup, and has recorded seven double-doubles in his last 12 starts; he should be in line for a repeat performance against the Wolverines smallish front court. Michigan State’s biggest problem has been consistency. They have battled Duke, Kansas, Notre Dame, and Maryland to the wire, but defeats to Texas Southern and Nebraska proves they are vulnerable versus lesser competition. They’ve won two straight road games by an average of 22 points.

A four-game losing skid in December that included a home shocker to New Jersey Institute of Technology put Michigan squarely behind the eight ball. A season-ending foot injury to leading scorer Caris LeVert on January 17th, and sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. being sidelined a week later with his own foot/toe issues, has the Wolverines circling the drain with only five games left on the regular season slate. Swingman Zak Irvin has done his best to fill the gaping offensive voids, but he’s receiving limited assistance from a roster comprised of mostly freshman. Head coach John Beilein has them playing hard, but a lack of size and shooters is hurting them on a nightly basis. Michigan has won four straight home tilts in the series.

Michigan State is 13-12 ATS overall and 5-5 ATS on the road. Wolverines are 10-13 ATS overall and 6-8 ATS at home. Never underestimate a home underdog in a rivalry game. That said, these teams are heading in opposite directions.

Bet Michigan State -4.5