Michigan St. Spartans (4-1) +6.5 vs. North Carolina Tarheels (7-0)
Ford Field, Detroit, M.I, 9:15PM Eastern, Wednesday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The beginning of the college hoops season has officially begun and the top ranked North Carolina Tarheels get their biggest test so far in the early season when they collide with Michigan State in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge. This season marks the 10th straight season for the ACC/Big 10 challenge with the ACC winning each of the previous seasons. The Spartans suffered their only loss to an ACC opponent this season and hopes to score upset over the number 1 team in the nation.
Michigan State heads into the contest after a 65-57 home win over Wichita State in their last outing. The Spartans fell big to the Maryland Terrapins a week ago 80-62. Michigan State has shot fairly well from the field with a 49.6 field goal percentage. The Spartans are led by Forward Raymar Morgan. Morgan is averaging 17 points per game with 4 boards. Sophomore Guard Kalin Lucas is the only other player averaging double digit point total with 11.6 ppg along with 6 assist per game.
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North Carolina has two of the most talented players in the country in Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough was the 2008 NCAA Player of the Year last season as a junior. Hansbrough will be once again one of the favorites for player of the year this season. Hansbrough already this season is averaging 21 points per game along with 5 rebounds. Any team that wants to upset the Tarheels must find a way to slow down the play of Tyler Hansbrough and that is a task nobody has been able to accomplish. Junior guard Ty Lawson is another Tarheel standout that has the ability to take control of games. Lawson is averaging 16 points per game, with 3 rebounds, and 6.7 assist a game. Lawson leads the nation with 47 total assist this season.
North Carolina from top to bottom has to be the most talented team in the country despite their number 1 ranking. The Tarheels have six players averaging double digits in points per game. North Carolina also ranks 5th in the nation in field goal percentage shooting 51.9% from the field. North Carolina is also one of the most lethal scoring teams in all of college basketball. The Tarheels rank 2nd in the nation in scoring offense at 96 points per game. The North Carolina big men also ranks 2nd in the nation in rebounds per game at 46. The Tarheels ability to control the boards and get second chances on offensive rebounds is just another arsenal that opposing teams have to worry about.
Michigan State will be expected to give North Carolina all they want in this game since they match up well against the Tarheels. The Spartans play a bit slower style power offense and they hope that will take North Carolina off from their normal run and gun fast offensive approach. Slowing down the North Carolina offense should benefit the Spartans chances because both teams shoot well from the floor but perhaps nobody in the country and can run up and down the court with the Tarheels. Michigan State biggest worry could be their bench play when the starters are resting. The Tarheels are as deep as any in the land while the Spartans bench play has not produced much positive results this season.
North Carolina has really done well on the boards this season racking up 40 rebounds per game ranking them 9th best in all of college basketball. North Carolina would love to control the inside game against the Spartans as they do not shoot very well from 3-point range. The Spartans have 33 rebounds per game this season ranking right outside the top 100. Michigan State will have to get some 2nd chances on the offensive rebounding side to give them a good chance in this game.
North Carolina is 4-2 ATS this season. The Tarheels have reached the 100 point mark on offense in 3 of their last 4 games while reaching the over total in 2 of the 3 games recorded this year. Michigan State is 3-1 ATS this season while going on the over side in 2 of 3 games this year. This will be the first game this season where the Spartans are the underdogs.
Jays Pick: North Carolina is just too strong to be taken down in this one. UNC -6.5.