Michigan State vs. Butler: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (11/17/21)

Michigan State vs. Butler Betting Odds

The third night of the Gavitt Tipoff Games are here, and it brings a treat between two storied college basketball programs.

Tom Izzo and the Spartans are looking to bounce back after a lost season. While Izzo earned Michigan State their 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last season, it was by the skin of his teeth, and ultimately the season was considered a failure by many.

He’s, unfortunately, not off to a hot start. MSU took a tough loss to Kansas in the season opener.

Meanwhile, Butler is 3-0. However, they’ve failed to cover against all three teams they’ve faced. That’s tough, especially since they’ve faced IUPUI (344th in KenPom ratings), Central Arkansas (337th in KenPom ratings), and Troy (232nd in KenPom ratings).

Butler isn’t catching many points at home in this matchup, so I’m not overly optimistic they’ll beat the mighty Spartans.

Michigan State Spartans Odds 

After a tough opening night loss to Kansas, the Spartans bounced back well against Western Michigan. The Spartans dominated against an inferior in-state school, leading wire-to-wire and winning by 44 as 24.5-point favorites.

That game showcased what Spartan basketball is all about. They played true team basketball, with 10 players scoring in the game. Plus, they shot 30-for-47 from inside the arc while holding Western Michigan to just 13-for-40 from that area. The Spartans have shot under 50% from inside the arc just seven times in Izzo’s historic tenure, so look for them to continue to dominate on the interior.

I’m surprised Tyson Walker hasn’t broken out yet. Walker was brought in from Northeastern to be a true point guard, which was something that plagued the Spartans last year with Rocket Watts. So far, he’s totaled just 11 points and eight assists through two games while racking up six turnovers.

Instead, backup floor general AJ Hoggard has looked like the Spartans leader. Hoggard racked up 17 points in the Kansas game, mostly by slashing, then backed that up with seven assists in the Western Michigan game. If he’s the one to break out this season, it creates an interesting dynamic for Izzo at the one.

The only way I see Michigan State competing for the Big Ten title is for Marcus Bingham to become a dominant interior force. He’s averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds through two games while making 10 of his 14 2-point shots and being the Spartans’ most efficient half-court scorer (1.032 points per possession). Time will tell if he keeps up this level of production.

Butler Bulldogs Odds 

Here’s the good news: Butler returns 96.2% of its total minutes from last season and 97.2% of its scoring.

Here’s the bad news: The Bulldogs didn’t score a lot, or win a lot of games.

Butler finished last in the conference in scoring offense last season (63.5 points per game) and second-to-last in offensive efficiency. They finished last in field-goal percentage (41.1%), 10th in free-throw percentage (64.6%), and 10th in assists (12.3 per game).

If it weren’t for DePaul, Butler would’ve been the league’s most pathetic offense.

Luckily, Butler continued to play hard on the other end. The Bulldogs finished fourth in the Big East in scoring defense (68.7 points per game allowed) and sixth in defensive efficiency. In conference play, Butler forced turnovers (third in defensive turnover rate), rebounded (third in defensive rebounding rate), and defended the perimeter well (third in defensive 3P%).

All-in-all, it wasn’t enough. Butler finished 10-15 overall and 8-12 in conference play.

So, fifth-year head coach LaVall Jordan brings the whole band back, and surely there will be an improvement on both ends of the floor. But, it’s questionable how high this team’s ceiling is.

Perhaps Eastern Michigan transfer Ty Groce will be the difference-maker. He hasn’t made a huge difference statistically yet, but it’s clear he’ll be a second-unit leader.

Prediction and Pick 

My pick: Michigan State ML (-150 or better)

At the time of this writing, lines aren’t out for this game. However, KenPom has this spread set at Michigan State -1, and I must think Sparty will be a short road favorite.

However, I believe that evaluation undervalues the Spartans.

Butler will get early-season love for their experience and minutes continuity. But as I mentioned, this team’s ceiling isn’t high. Bringing back all five starters from a 10-15 team doesn’t mean a whole lot, especially when they’re going up against Izzo.

Moreover, this is Butler’s first “real” game this season. The Bulldogs have played three of the worst college basketball teams out there, and they will now face a stiff test against a top-25 program.

Meanwhile, Michigan State may have underperformed against Kansas, but they were competitive for large portions of the game. That was against a consensus top-five team, and now they’re playing Butler.

Considering this will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse, I can imagine this game coming down to the wire. But I don’t see a world in which Sparty loses this game.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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