NCAA Pick: Bradley Braves vs. Michigan State
Bradley Braves (20-14 SU, 16-17 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (28-6 SU, 24-10 ATS)
When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
By: Matt Lowry, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BRAD +18.5 / MICH ST -18.5 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 133.5
Last Time Out: Bradley beat Northern Iowa 57-54 in the Missouri Valley Championship; Michigan State beat Michigan 65-60 in the Big Ten Championship
Scouting the Braves:
They Braves may have only finished 9-9 in the Missouri Valley, but that did not stop them from making a magical run in their conference tournament to secure their automatic bid in the Big Dance. They even took down last years’ Cinderella, Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals before eventually beating Northern Iowa in the finals. While the Braves may be a 15-seed, Michigan State lost to a 15-seed in 2016, so the Braves should not be counted out just yet.
Scouting the Spartans:
In a way the Spartans were cheated by the committee as they were given a 2-seed in the East Region with a team like the Duke Blue Devils sitting as the 1-seed. We are talking about the Michigan State team who won the Big Ten regular season title, won the Big Ten tournament title, and therefore deserved to be a 1-seed. Either way this Spartans team is a legit title contender and should scare their opponent no matter who it is. The Spartans ended the season on a 5-game winning streak and of course will be looking to keep their streak going, with a deep run in this years’ tournament.
Head to Head:
These teams have met a total of 3 times dating back to 2006. The Spartans are 3-0 in the 3 meetings and have won by an average margin of 16.7 points per game. The closest the Braves have come to upsetting the Spartans was in 2007, when they lost 66-61.
Notable Betting Trends:
The trend that sticks out when looking at this matchup is, not all that many points are scored when these two teams go head to head. Granted the last time they played one another was 11 years ago, but nonetheless the under is 3-0 in these 3 meetings. Especially looking at Bradley, the under is 7-3 in their last 10 games and 3-0 in their last 3 games. The under is 6-4 in Michigan State’s last 10 games and 2-0 in their last 2 games. Also, specifically when Bradley has played teams from the Big Ten, the under is 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Bradley will Cover if:
They knock down their three-pointers. One of the biggest things all the lower seeds need to do to hang around with the big boys is to be efficient from the three-point line. Luckily for the Braves, they shoot a decent percentage from behind the arc (36.6%). This mainly includes Darrell Brown, their leading scorer, who has shot 43.9% from three-point range this season. Brown has really struggled as of late, going 3 of 15 from three in the Missouri Valley tournament.
Michigan State will Cover if:
Cassius Winston plays like the Big Ten Player of the Year. Winston has been great all season, but in the Big Ten Championship, he struggled from the field. Going just 5 of 13 from the field against Michigan and 1 of 4 from three was not like Winston, so he will certainly need to perform much better. However, he did post 11 assists in the win over the Wolverines, so he contributed in other ways. Basically, Winston is going to have to have a bounce back game to ensure that the Spartans win by the desired number that most sportsbooks have set for them.
Matt’s Pick for Bradley vs. Michigan State:
With this being the first game of the tournament for both teams, but especially Michigan State, they may come out of the gates a little rusty. MyBookie has the line set at 18.5 in favor of Michigan State, while the total is set at 133.5. With it being March, really anything could happen, which is why I would stay away from the point spread. The under sticks out because again, it is the first game of the tournament for these guys, and neither team is known for running up the scoreboard. Michigan State could easily score in the high 70s or they could struggle and score in the low 60s. Either way, Michigan State will be able to lock down Bradley on the defensive end and because of that, the under is the best play.
Matt’s College Basketball Pick: Under 133.5