Northwestern vs. Michigan State: State Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (1/15/22)

Northwestern vs. Michigan State Betting Odds

It’s been another long week in the Big Ten, and this game will cap it off.

Northwestern and Michigan State will meet for the second time in 13 days. Back on January 2nd, the Spartans pulled off a gutty, six-point road win. That added to the Spartans win streak which now stands at eight and has catapulted them into the AP top-10.

Meanwhile, Northwestern is pulling off another classic Chris Collins season. The Wildcats began the season hot, starting 8-2 with a win over Maryland. They’ve lost four straight games since. And they are on a crash course for a much-longer losing streak, just like when they lost 13 straight last season after winning six of their first seven.

So, can Collins and the Wildcats change the narrative? Or will Izzo’s Spartans continue to roll?

Northwestern Wildcats Odds

The Wildcats have experience and continuity going for them. Upperclassmen Boo Buie, Chase Audige, and Pete Nance all returned from last season, and they’re the three highest-usage Northwestern players.

Given the experience, Northwestern at least takes care of the ball. The ‘Cats are fourth nationally in turnover rate and top-10 in both steal rate and non-steal turnover rate.

The Wildcats also make over 75% of their free-throw attempts and play solid interior defense.

But things fall apart outside of that.

The Wildcats are sub-200 in 2-point percentage (48.7%) and offensive block rate. They’re also one of the worst motion offenses in the nation, ranking 315th in pick-and-roll points per possession, 280th in hand-off points per possession, and 255th in cutting points per possession.

The Wildcats can shoot a bit, but they’re probably missing Miller Kopp. Kopp transferred to Indiana and has been lighting it up for the Hoosiers.

However, ShotQuality’s metrics are calling for major positive regression for the Wildcats. The website has Northwestern’s adjusted shot quality record at 10-4, rather than 8-6.

So, we could potentially target Northwestern as a buy-low team in future Big Ten games.

Michigan State Spartans

Like every year, here comes Tom Izzo.

People may have written off the Spartans after losses to Kansas and Baylor. But that sentence itself sounds ridiculous. There are very few college basketball teams that can beat Kansas and Baylor.

But take those two games away, and Sparty is 8-0 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 opportunities. That includes quality wins over:

– Loyola Chicago (Neutral court, 63-61)
– Connecticut (Neutral court, 64-60)
– Minnesota (Away, 75-67)
– Butler (Away, 73-52)
– Toledo (Home, 81-68)
– Oakland (Neutral court, 90-78)
– Northwestern (Away, 73-67)
– Minnesota (Home, 71-69)

That is a solid resume. And it’s why the AP Poll has the Spartans ranked so high.

The Spartans play good, team basketball. Michigan State is top-50 in effective field goal percentage and top-20 in defensive effective field goal percentage. They’re also solid rebounding and rank top-10 in assist rate.

When it comes to that assist rate, look no further than the backcourt tandem of AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker. Hoggard is second nationally in assist rate and Walker is 13th, and the two are combining for almost 10 per game.

Marcus Bingham Jr. has also been massive. He’s the primary rim protector for the 13th-best blocking team in the nation, and he ranks ninth nationally in block rate. He also pulls down 7.5 boards per game.

Add in wing-scorers Gabe Brown and Max Christie – who combine for over 25 points per game – and you have one of the most complete teams in college basketball. The Spartans have experienced guard play, solid scoring options, and an elite rim protector.

It’s tough to beat that, which is why the Spartans haven’t lost in a long time.

Northwestern vs. Michigan State Prediction and Pick

My pick: Northwestern +6.5 or better

Michigan State didn’t look perfect in its prior win over the Wildcats. Sparty struggled in that matchup.

Even though this game is in East Lansing, I’m expecting Sparty to have to grind out another conference win.

Nothing comes easy in the Big Ten. And 6.5 points is a few too many for Sparty to be laying in this spot.

And remember how ShotQuality called for positive regression from Northwestern? Well, the site is calling for major negative regression for Michigan State.

So, let’s buy low on Northwestern and sell high on Michigan State. If we’re catching close to seven, I’ll play the underdog.

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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