Winners of just five games in conference and only sitting two-games over .500 overall, the Michigan State Spartans have been one of the bigger disappointments of the college basketball betting season at online sportsbooks. The team does however have an enormous opportunity ahead of it this week with a pair of teams ranked in the Top-10 paying East Lansing a visit. Up first is a clash with the No. 5 ranked Illinois Fighting Illini. It doesn’t get any easier after that with Chris Holtmann’s No. 4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes set to invade the Breslin Center. If Sparty is to make any type of move to drastically improve upon its seeding for the upcoming B1G Tournament, this is the week to do it. As bad MSU has been on the road, it’s played its best brand of ball in the comforts of its own gym where eight of 11 played games have been won. Unfortunately, the triumphs haven’t translated into success against the college basketball odds evidenced by a pathetic 2-9 ATS tally. The Buckeyes also dominated the Spartans in the first meeting in Columbus back on January 31 when it cruised to the 79-62 win and cover as 5.5-point favorites. The 141 combined points just managed to stay under the 142-point closing total.
Take this Big 10 matchup in live on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET from the Breslin Center on Thursday, February 25, 2021. We'll have NCAA basketball odds at BookMaker.eu available for every tilt lined up for Thursday’s college basketball schedule.
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The Spartans have been better than average perimeter defenders this season. In the first meeting with the Buckeyes, Michigan State only allowed 6 of 18 conversion attempts which equated to a 33 percent success rate. But without a rim protector to keep OSU’s bigs in check, the Buckeyes dominated the paint. E.J. Liddell and Justice Sueing would go on to combine for 37 points and 15 rebounds. Heading into the rematch, Michigan State ranks No. 237 with 37.6 percent of points conceded per game coming from 2-point range. Over its last three matchups, it allowed the Hawkeyes, Boilermakers and Hoosiers to score 43.3 percent of its points inside the arc. Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis just went off for 34 points and nine rebounds! It is however possible that E.J. Liddell isn’t 100 percent for this game after rolling his ankle against Michigan. If hampered, it might give Sparty the advantage needed to tip the scales in their favor.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes will have 3+ days to get their bodies and minds right for this trip to East Lansing where they’ll look to improve their 7-3 SU and 6-2-1 ATS records playing away from Value City Arena. Though Dwayne Washington Jr. went for a career-high 30 points on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t enough to keep the Buckeyes seven-game win streak intact. Michigan would pull away late to secure the impressive 92-87 win and cover in a shootout that commenced right from the opening tip. The offense was electric in canning 53 percent of its shots, but the defense simply had no answer for Hunter Dickinson in the second half and it also committed way too many fouls; 17 to be exact which the Wolverines took full advantage of by draining 19 of 24 free throws.
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans battled back from a 10 point second half deficit to stage a must-have comeback win against the Indiana Hoosiers over the weekend. In doing so, Tom Izzo’s kids put an end to two-game losing and four-game coverless streaks by earning the 78-71 outright win and cover as 6.5-point underdogs. The last time Aaron Henry put forth a dominant effort, Michigan State earned a hard-fought 60-58 win against Penn State. The junior was up to his old tricks on Saturday when he went for a team-high 27 points on 9 of 17 shooting to lead Sparty to the comeback win. They’ll need more of that from him against a Buckeyes defense that limited him to a 2 of 8 showing in the first meeting which also included an ugly 0 of 4 effort from beyond the arc.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State Prediction
Look for the Spartans to be catching 3-5 points with the total lined in the mid-140s for Thursday night’s rematch. MSU had rattled off four straight wins and covers in the recent rivalry with the Buckeyes before falling by 17 points in the first meeting back on January 31. It simply doesn’t have the offensive power to get in a track meet with Ohio State, and Izzo knows that. I fully expect the Spartans to slow this game down in hopes of frustrating a Buckeyes team that could hit the Breslin Center hardwood a bit too overconfident after dominating the first go round. You have to go all the way back to 2012 to find the last time OSU won on the Spartans home court. Michigan State has come out on top each of the last seven times it hosted this rivalry and went on to cover the closing number in all but one of those contests. MSU has also only been dogged at home against the Buckeyes once since the turn of the century! We’ve seen teams in dire need of coming up with a big home win get the job done in recent weeks, and I’m thinking MSU adds itself to that list on Thursday night. Look for Henry to have another big game and lead the Spartans to an impressive resume building win to even the season rivalry.
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