Michigan State vs. Minnesota Odds & Pick ATS

by | Dec 8, 2021 | cbb

Michigan State Spartans (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS)
When: Wednesday, December 8, 9 p.m.
Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis
TV: BTN
Point Spread: MIST -7.5/MINN +7.5 (BetNow)
Moneyline: MIST -320/MINN +250
Total: 144.5

Last Time Out:

Michigan State beat Toledo 81-68; Minnesota edged Mississippi State 81-76.

About the Matchup:

Now’s the time for Minnesota to prove it’s for real after building up a surprising 7-0 start under first-year coach Ben Johnson. The Gophers are 7-0, but nobody has really taken them all that seriously yet because they’d only been beating lower-level schools up until the past week. But they’ve picked up wins over Pittsburgh and Mississippi State on the road recently, suggesting that the pick of the Gophers to finish dead last in the Big Ten might have been a little bit off. Michigan State, however, is a much bigger challenge, as the Spartans only have losses to third-ranked Kansas and sixth-ranked Baylor on their resume to this point. The Spartans have won most of their games by convincing margins, with only Connecticut and Loyola-Chicago staying within nine points of Michigan State in a Spartan win. However, the way the Spartans have won their past two games has been a bit concerning, as they struggled with turnovers against Louisville and needed to rely too much on the deep shot against Toledo to pull away.

Scouting the Spartans:

When you can rebound as well as the Spartans have, it really doesn’t matter that much that you’re not shooting it all that great. Michigan State has built this year’s team on rebounding and defense, as the Spartans rank 23rd in opposing field goal percentage and 39th in rebounds per game. The Spartans are kind of a bizarro Iowa this season: still willing to play fast, but heavy on the defense instead of the offense. Michigan State might actually be better off adopting a Virginia-like pace this season, but the Spartans seem determined to push the pace. That has backfired at times because Michigan State has averaged 15.7 turnovers per game, with every starter coughing it up at least once a game. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are handling the scoring well to date, but the turnovers are going to catch up with Michigan State when it meets the wrong opponent, which is going to happen sooner rather than later in the Big Ten.

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Scouting the Golden Gophers:

Minnesota is built around three things: Good defense Not turning the ball over The play of Jamison Battle and Payton Willis Willis, in particular, has been a big part of the Gophers’ success, as he and Luke Loewe are the only ones who regularly get assists in an offense that tends to rely on people creating their own shots. Willis has scored or assisted on 45 percent of the Gophers’ baskets in their past three wins, and if anything goes wrong with him, Minnesota is probably in for a long night. Beyond that, the Gophers need to continue to not turn the ball over. Minnesota only turns it over on 15 percent of its possessions, and the Gophers average less than ten giveaways per game. That could be because Minnesota knows it doesn’t have the talent advantage most nights, so if the Gophers are going to get results, they cannot afford to beat themselves.

Michigan State will Cover If: The Spartans can pound the interior for offensive rebounds. Michigan State is 5-0 when it gets to 11 offensive boards, and there will likely be opportunities for rebounding based on how well Minnesota defends the deep shot. If the Spartans get second chances, they’re in good shape.

Minnesota will Cover If: The Gophers can keep the Spartans from ever getting decent looks at the basket by forcing turnovers. Michigan State has a problem with ball control, and Minnesota needs to exploit it. The Gophers’ 3-point defense ranks second in the nation, but that needs to be Plan B rather than Plan A against a team with this much shooting talent and this many turnover problems.

Dan’s Best Prop Bets

The under looks like a good play here, as both of these teams, are excellent on defense. Shots should be at a premium in the Barn, so the number will likely fall below the projected total here.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Minnesota is a tough place to win, and I don’t know if Michigan State is ready for this test with the way it’s been playing. I think the Gophers can hang tight with the Spartans in this one, so I like Minnesota and the points.