Michigan State will start the Big Ten Tournament against a surprising opponent. Ohio State took down both Wisconsin and Iowa after a disappointing regular season and now has its eyes on a miracle run. The Spartans enter as a 3.5-point favorite, with the over/under at 138.5 points.
Let’s make predictions for Friday’s matchup and take a look at why Ohio State has a chance to keep this run alive.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State Prediction
Five of the six Big Ten Tournament games entering Friday’s action have been won by the lower seed. The conference might be even more evenly matched than we thought, and it may be shortsighted to expect that to change right now.
Ohio State was able to beat a defensive-minded Wisconsin team and offensive-minded Iowa team. Michigan State does a bit of both, which may be a challenge, but the Buckeyes were able to hang with the Spartans last week despite a (likely) unsustainable three-point shooting performance by Michigan State.
As Bruce Thornton emerges as a serious scoring option for Ohio State and elevates what we already knew was an underachieving roster, the Buckeyes have a chance to at least take this one down to the wire.
Momentum looked like it mattered on Thursday, and Michigan State could have some rust itself after an even longer period between games. The chaos continues in the Big Ten Tournament.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State Prediction: Ohio State +3.5
Ohio State vs. Michigan State Odds
Michigan State enters as a 3.5-point favorite against the Buckeyes, sitting at -177 on the moneyline. The over/under is 138.5 points.
The Big Ten has been tightly packed all season, but Ohio State wasn’t part of that pack as it fell toward the bottom of the conference. Do the Buckeyes’ wins this week mean they’ve closed the gap?
Ohio State vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Here are some key matchups that could decide Ohio State vs. Michigan State.
Michigan State Shooters vs. Ohio State Three-Point Defense
The key to slowing down the Spartans’ offense continues to be limiting them from three-point range. Michigan State is shooting 40.1% from beyond the arc, the third-best mark in the nation, with Tyson Walker, Joey Hauser, and Jaden Akins all shooting better than 40% from deep. The Spartans aren’t very efficient inside the line, so forcing them inside would be helpful for the Buckeyes.
Threes are what decided this matchup last weekend. Michigan State shot a ridiculous 60% from deep in the six-point win, with multiple threes from Hauser, Akins, A.J. Hoggard, and Malik Hall. This healthy Spartans team has plenty of options on the offensive end and proved they’ll be a challenge for Ohio State despite the Buckeyes’ solid mark of a 32.3% opponent three-point percentage.
Ohio State Freshmen vs. Big Ten Tournament Spotlight
Time and time again, Brice Sensabaugh has delivered for Ohio State. The Buckeyes proved in the regular season that a freshman-led team has a tough path to winning, but now a second freshman has joined the mix. Bruce Thornton, a starter all season, has begun to emerge as a serious scoring threat for this team and is a major reason why Ohio State finds itself still alive.
Thornton had a 20-point game against Michigan State last weekend and followed up a 15-point performance in the first round with a 17-point showing against Iowa on Thursday. Like Malaki Branham last year, Thornton is the freshman who has changed the course of the Buckeyes’ season, and he’s a major factor in my Ohio State vs. Michigan State prediction.
Thornton and Sensabaugh must continue to deliver on Friday as the spotlight gets brighter and the competition gets tougher. The pair combined for 41 points in last week’s loss to the Spartans, so they’ve had success against Tom Izzo’s team and need to be ready for adjustments.