In a big-time early season matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, the Michigan State Spartans will travel to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both teams already have five wins on the season but have certainly taken different paths. Michigan State has already faced off against three ranked college basketball programs in Gonzaga, Kentucky, and Alabama. While they beat Kentucky in double overtime and narrowly lost to Gonzaga missing a last second shot, they fell to Alabama 81-70. They face off against another competitive team before heading to Big Ten play and it’ll be answered in this game if their tough schedule so far has them ready to take on this Fighting Irish team.
Notre Dame is 5-1 at the moment and is off to a good start, but that start has yet to face off against a Power 5 team. They also had tough games against Radford, Youngstown State, and Lipscomb winning by margins of seven or less in each of those. They lost their most recent game to St. Bonaventure 63-51. A competition against a tough team like the Spartans could be just what they need to get their season going for conference play, or it could seriously show off the problems with this team. Let’s get into this matchup’s picks and predictions.
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds
There are no betting lines open yet just for this game with the game tipping off tomorrow. Despite the easy schedule Notre Dame has had, ESPN Analytics is giving the Irish a 60 percent chance to beat the Spartans at home. The Irish are led by Forward Nate Laszewski who is currently the team’s leader in scoring and rebounding with 18.2 PPG and 8.7 RPG. He will need another big night against Michigan State to get the victory. Michigan State currently ranks 20th in the country after starting the season unranked. A large part in that was due to their win against Kentucky and showing their ability to hang close with other top teams. This will be their first major road test for the Spartans as most of their big games have been played on neutral sites in various pre-conference tournaments. This would be an excellent win for Michigan State to get to enter Big Ten play so slowing down Laszewski will be important.
The over/under total is not posted yet either. This team is averaging very similarly in points for and points against. The Irish are currently averaging 74.7 PPG with the Spartans averaging 73.9. Michigan State is also allowing 70.7 Points against while Notre Dame is allowing 70.2.
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Picks & Predictions
My pick: Michigan State ML
Despite ESPN Analytics giving Notre Dame the edge, I am riding with the Spartans who I think will be ready for a hostile road environment due to their tough schedule they’ve played already. I think Notre Dame will improve, but barely beating mid-majors and losing to St. Bonaventure certainly won’t get you ready for a team like Michigan State who always plays tough competition early. Kenpom rankings also place Michigan State 30th in the country with Notre Dame all the way back at 78th. Michigan State currently has four teams averaging double digits in Tyson Walker, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, and A.J. Hoggard. If they can rely on these four for their expected consistency, I think Michigan State can win. I do see this being a close game however, and not certain what the spread will be placed at but don’t think the Spartans will win by a wide margin. Notre Dame has shown their ability to play in close games.
Tyson Walker vs. Notre Dame
The biggest matchup will be that of Michigan State’s leading scorer Tyson Walker against Notre Dame’s defense. Walker is averaging 15.6 PPG and 4.6 APG. If he is able to score his average or more I think Michigan State’s offense will certainly thrive on the road. Joey Hauser is another player I’m looking at to do well. He is Michigan State’s best three point shooter with a 47.2 percent shooting average from behind the arc. If he can knock down from deep as well, that will just give the Spartan offense more fire that I’m not sure Notre Dame can keep up with.