Wofford Terriers vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Wofford Terriers (4-4 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (5-2 SU, 2-4 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Friday, December 4, 2009, Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Mich. TV: Big Ten Network
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Wofford +19.5/Michigan State -19.5
Over/Under: 144.

Michigan State came into the season with extremely high expectations, coming off an appearance in the National Championship and returning almost all of its key players. But it’s not even a month into the season and the Spartans already have two losses.

The Spartans started the season 4-0, including a close win over Gonzaga to give them a good early test. But in a neutral game in Atlantic City in the Legends Classic, they fell to the Florida Gators, 77-74. They rebounded well with a dominating 106-68 win over UMass. But on Tuesday, the Spartans had a rematch of last season’s National Championship when they played at North Carolina. The Spartans rallied late but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 16-point halftime deficit as they lost the Tar Heels, 89-82.

The Spartans have really had some defining games early in the season. After losing in the last minute to Florida the day before, the Spartans shot 59 percent from the field and an incredible 14-for-22 from 3-point range in the win over UMass. In the loss to North Carolina, Michigan State simply got outshot. The Spartans surprisingly did just fine against the size of UNC, but they shot just 2-for-20 from beyond the arc and 43 percent overall, which isn’t a bad percentage considering the poor 3-point shooting. But UNC shot 57.9 percent from the field and 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Four Spartans scored in double figures, led by Raymar Morgan with 18 points. It’s a good sign to see that Morgan had a solid effort because he is vital to the success of the Spartans and hasn’t really been his old self in a while.

Kalin Lucas, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, is leading the Spartans in scoring with 16.9 points per game. Durrell Summers, Chris Allen and Draymond Green have all been stepping up for the Spartans this season, averaging double digits in scoring. With that 18-point effort against UNC, Morgan is now averaging 10 points per game. Off the bench, Korie Lucious is leading the team in assists with 5.3 per game and only 1.3 turnovers.

Most people have never heard of Wofford, so when looking at this matchup they may think this game is lopsided. But in reality, Wofford is a solid mid-major basketball team this season and should not be taken lightly. The Terriers have already faced the likes of Pittsburgh, Georgia and Illinois this season, and they’ve played well against all of them. They lost by three points to Pitt, defeated Georgia by three, and stayed with Illinois for most of the game before losing by 14 down the stretch. The Terriers haven’t played great in their last three games, losing their last one by five at Western Carolina, but they could have simply been looking ahead to this game. Based on how they’ve played against top competition this season, the Spartans better be prepared.

Wofford is a team with disciplined offense that passes the ball well and can knock down 3-pointers. The Terriers have relied heavily on Noah Dahlman to do the bulk of their scoring. The 6-foot-6 junior forward is averaging 18 points per game, more than double any other player on the team. He also leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game and is shooting 58.9 percent from the field. Dahlman is only 6-foot-6, but he does most of his work down low. The Terriers have seven players capable of knocking down 3-pointers – Junior Salters, Corey Godzinski, Jamar Diggs, Cameron Rundles, Brad Loesing, Kevin Gittner and Jason Dawson. Once Dahlman gets going down low and forces some extra attention, it frees up the other four players for easy jumpers.

Ryno’s Pick: Michigan State rarely ever loses at home, so it’s out of the question that the Spartans would lose this game to Wofford. But the question is whether or not Wofford can come within 20 points of the Spartans. There are two situations that this game falls into. The Spartans have played against three quality teams – Gonzaga, Florida and North Carolina – and has struggled a bit in all three of those games. If Wofford can be put in that category and considered a good team, the Terriers will give Michigan State another test. But last time Michigan State lost – the 77-74 loss to Florida on Saturday – the Spartans bounced back with their best performance of the season, an emphatic 38-point win over UMass in which they were up by as much as 46 in the second half. Coming off a loss to UNC, the Spartans could bounce back the same way, especially at home. Wofford could give the Spartans a test and come as close as five points or so, but the Spartans could also win this game by 25 or 30. Based on that range, the value is in Wofford keeping it close. Take Wofford +19.5.