No. 10 Michigan State Spartans +1 (9-2) at No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers -1 (12-0) Williams Arena, Minneapolis, M.N. Wednesday, 12:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Big Ten powerhouses collide early New Years Eve when the undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Michigan State Spartans. The game will highlight two teams ranked in the top 25 and looks to be a great match-up. The Spartans have two losses early in the season from ACC opponents, but hold the number 10 ranking in the nation. The Golden Gophers are a perfect 12-0 with a big victory over number 9 Louisville 70-64 a little over a week ago. Minnesota is about to embark on a tough stretch of games and another big win over inner-conference foe Michigan State would make another big statement.
Michigan State was predicted pre-season to be the most talented team out of the Big 10 this year. The Spartans stumbled early in the season against Maryland and then were crushed by no. 1 North Carolina. Despite the out of conference mishaps, the Spartans look to return to dominance in terms of the Big 10. Michigan State is shooting a very strong 49% from the field which ranks in the top 20 of all the teams in college basketball. The Spartans have also controlled the boards very well averaging 36.5 rebounds per game. Michigan State has also only allowed 27 rebounds per game ranking them in the top 30 in both rebounding categories. The Spartans look to take advantage of a Minnesota team that has struggled in rebounding categories this season.
Minnesota is off and running well with a record of 12-0. The Golden Gophers have shot very well from the field shooting 48% for the season. The 48% field goal shooting places Minnesota in the top 30 in the nation in terms of field goal percentage. The Golden Gophers have also held teams to low field goal percentage which has contributed to their perfect record. Minnesota is only allowing their opponents to shoot a mere 38% which ranks in the top 40 of 300+ teams in college basketball. The Golden Gophers play a slower pace game similar to the Spartans. These two teams similar styles will collide Wednesday as both will try to make their claim as best in the Big 10 early in the season.
Sportsbetting.com has opened the betting lines favoring Michigan State by a single point. By game-time this match-up will likely be a pickem contest considering the public has no clear favorite. ML numbers have not been posted by will be very close to even money.
Minnesota does not have a clear superstar on the floor, but they get a supporting help through a bunch of key players. The Golden Gophers junior guard Lawrence Westbrook is averaging a team high 13 points per game this season while shooting nearly 40% from 3 point range. Forward Damian Johnson and guard Blake Hoffarber are both averaging a little over 10 points per game this season as well. The Golden Gophers have a bunch of guys that will come off the bench that will contribute significantly. Minnesota has an amazing 11 guys averaging at least 10 minutes or more of play this season and they will keep fresh legs on the court to try and wear down the Spartans.
Michigan State junior forward Raymar Morgan has been the leader for the Spartans this season averaging 15.3 points per game. Morgan is shooting a very stout 65% from the floor which is not far off the best field goal percentage in the nation. Spartans sophomore guard Kalin Lucas has been stellar as well this season averaging 11.4 points per game along with 6 assist. Michigan State could have a good advantage in this game if they continue to control the boards as they have all season. The Spartans have struggled against fast pace offense. The Golden Gophers are only averaging 74 points per game this season in result of a fairly slow pace offense. Michigan State could benefit greatly from this game considering they match-up well against these types of opponents.
Minnesota is 12-0 SU this season. However, the Golden Gophers have not faired well against the Spartans in the past. Minnesota is an embarrassing 1-8 SU in their last 9 match-ups while going 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games against Michigan State. The Spartans are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games and 4-1 SU in their last 5 games on the road.
Jays Pick – Spartans match-up extremely well against Minnesota in this game. Minnesota has the opportunity to have a big season, but Spartans win big in this one. Take Michigan State.