Michigan State Spartans vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Michigan State Spartans (17-3 SU, 8-11 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (10-9 SU, 8-7 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, January 26, 2009, Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Michigan State -4/Michigan +4
Over/Under: 131

Before the season, Michigan State vs. Michigan looked like it would be a heck of a matchup. The Spartans have lived up to their hype as a top-10 team, but the Wolverines have been incredibly disappointing this season. Michigan could revitalize its season with an upset victory at home over the Spartans on Tuesday night.

Michigan State is 7-0 in the Big Ten and is coming off its closest test yet, a 65-64 win on the road at Minnesota on Saturday. With the score tied and 1:27 remaining, Kalin Lucas hit a 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead. Lucas finished with a game-high 22 points and he also had five assists. Raymar Morgan had 17 points and six rebounds, and Chris Allen had 12 points. Allen and Lucas each made four 3-pointers. In all, the Spartans shot 11-for-24 on 3-pointers, which really proved to be the difference in the game.

The Spartans are 4-2 in road games this season, with those losses coming at North Carolina on December 1, 89-82, and at Texas on December 22, 79-68. They’ve won at Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern and Citadel.

Michigan is 10-9 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play and has certainly had its troubles this season. The best win the Wolverines got in their non-conference schedule was a neutral win over Creighton. They lost to Boston College, Marquette, Alabama, Utah and Kansas. When Big Ten play began, it didn’t get any better for the Wolverines, as they lost their first conference game at Indiana. They were able to get a huge win over Ohio State at home to give them confidence and momentum, which they took into their next game, a road win at Penn State that involved an impressive second half comeback. Since then, they lost at home to Northwestern and won at home over Indiana and Connecticut.

But in their last two games, the Wolverines have lost on the road at Wisconsin and Purdue. They had the lead for most of the game at Wisconsin before blowing it in the second half. On Saturday, they lost at Purdue, 69-59, in a game that really wasn’t that close at all. Manny Harris did not play because he was suspended by John Beilein for unsportsmanlike actions in practice. DeShawn Sims had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zack Novak had 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Purdue shot 50 percent from the field and won both the rebounding and turnover battles.

Harris has been reinstated from his one-game suspension and will play in this game against Michigan State.

The Wolverines rely heavily on 3-point shooting and they haven’t been very good at it this season (30 percent), which is a big reason why they have struggled. They are defending the 3-point line well, hold opponents to 29.8 percent. Their rebounding has been awful, as they are getting out-rebounded by 1.6 boards per game. On the contrary, Michigan State is +8.6 on the boards per game. The Spartans are shooting 34.9 percent on 3-pointers and holding opponents to 30.8 percent. Overall, they are shooting 48.5 percent and holding opponents to 39.7 percent.

The Spartans are 9-1-2 ATS in their last 12 games as a road favorite of 6.5 or less. They are 23-3-2 ATS in their last 28 games as a favorite of 6.5 or less, regardless or home or away. They are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games as a road favorite. Michigan is 5-0 ATS in their last five games as an underdog and 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall. These two teams faced each other once last year in Ann Arbor, and the Spartans won the game, 54-42.

Ryno’s Pick: Everybody is waiting for Michigan to become the team it was expected to in the preseason after a great season last year and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. But the Wolverines just haven’t been the same team and they haven’t shown real glimpses of their expectations at all this season. The Spartans have totally lived up to their hype and are certainly looking like a Final Four contender. The Spartans will be up for this rivalry game and to keep their perfect conference record intact. Unless the Wolverines suddenly get hot from 3-point range, which they really haven’t done consistently this season, the Spartans will control this game and stay perfect in the Big Ten. Take Michigan State -4.