Michigan State vs. Michigan Betting Odds
One of the country’s most-heated in-state rivalries tips off Saturday, as the Wolverines will host the Spartans in Ann Arbor.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is getting hot, winning eight straight including its first three conference games.
But is this a buy-low spot for Michigan?
Let’s dive in.
Michigan State Spartans Odds
The Spartans are really predicated on their defensive prowess. The team is top-25 in defensive effective field goal percentage and is top-15 in block rate behind their 7-foot big man Marcus Bingham Jr.
Before the season, I was looking for one of the younger Spartans to take a step up this season. Bingham has been fulfilling that role, posting a 114.1 ORtg and ranking 13th nationally in block rate. He’s a threat in the pick-and-roll (1.375 PPP, 88th percentile) and efficient defending post-ups (.629 PPP allowed, 76th percentile).
STEAL ➡️ OOP
— Barstool Bench Mob (@stoolbenchmob) December 2, 2021
The rest of the Spartans is a mixed bag. Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker was expected to be the big-name point guard that Tom Izzo needed, but he’s been inconsistent at best. Luckily, he’s starting to really see the floor well, sneaking up to 12th nationally in assist rate while dropping 50 dimes in his last eight games.
Otherwise, senior Gabe Brown and freshman Max Christie have shouldered a good amount of the scoring load. Those two are combining for 25 points per game, although the efficiency has been lacking.
The 3-point shot has carried the Spartans so far, as the team is making almost 40% of its 3-point opportunities. ShotQuality’s metrics see serious regression for the Spartans in that department, so I’d tread lightly with Sparty moving forward.
Especially because of the turnover issues. Not only is Michigan State sub-250 in offensive turnover rate, but the Spartans are also forcing turnovers at a sub-300 level. That’s not the formula for a winning basketball team.
There’s almost nothing to say about Michigan.
The team is doing all the wrong things. The perimeter defense has been terrible (341st in turnover rate) and nobody is hitting their free throws (68%, 250th nationally). Plus, the team is throwing the ball away, ranking 268th in non-steal turnover rate.
A lot of the blame falls on Devante Jones’ shoulders. Like Mike Smith last season, Jones was asked to transform from a mid-major high-volume scorer to a power-conference ball-screen facilitator. His assist rate is high, but so is his turnover rate.
However, it’s also been difficult to replace the wing production from last season. There was no better wing duo in college ball last season than Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner. Unfortunately, Brandon Johns Jr. and Caleb Houstan haven’t developed into their roles yet – both have ORtg’s under 94.
Thank goodness for Eli Brooks, who continues to play perfect 3-and-D ball from the Two. He’s averaging 12.9 points per game on 43%/37% shooting splits.
Additionally, Hunter Dickinson is still a top-tier Big Ten big man. He’s a dominant interior presence on both ends of the floor, but it sure seems like he needs more help.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Prediction and Pick
My pick: Michigan State ML (-106 at FanDuel)
This game opened early at Michigan -1, but the sharps quickly pushed this line back the other way.
What’s interesting about this market, however, is that over 75% of the tickets are coming in on Michigan. That means there’s some heavy sharp money on the Spartans, and I’m obliged to agree with them.
How are you supposed to back the Wolverines right now? This Michigan team couldn’t beat Minnesota, and now it’s supposed to hold off Sparty — A Sparty team that is are 3-0 against the spread on the road this season.
Give me MSU on the ML, up to -125.