USC plays Michigan State in the opening round of the Tournament in a 10 vs 7 matchup. USC is coming off a loss to Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament, while Michigan State is coming off a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. My prediction is that the Spartans cover the 2-point spread against USC. The Trojans have a lot of athletes, but Michigan State is more experienced and better coached, which is the difference.
USC vs. Michigan State Prediction
Michigan State comes into this Tournament after being a little inconsistent over the season, but they’re still a threat in this Tournament.
Tyson Walker is the biggest key for the Spartans this season. He leads the team in scoring at 15 points per game and in steals at 1 per game. Joey Hauser is a big key for the Spartans down low and on the wing. He’s next in scoring at 14 PPG and then he also leads the team in rebounds at 7 per game. A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins make up the rest of a very good guard trio. Hoggard averages 12.5 PPG and leads the team in assists at 6 per game, while Akins averages 10 PPG.
The Spartans are solid across the board on both offense and defense. They average 70 PPG on offense and give up 67 PPG on defense.
On the other side, USC has been very good at times, but also inconsistent at times this season.
Boogie Ellis is the engine that makes USC go. Ellis is the best scorer the Trojans have and leads the team at 18 PPG. Drew Peterson is a do-it-all wing player for USC this season. He’s second in scoring at 14 PPG and then he leads the team in rebounds at 6 per game and in assists at 4 per game. Reese Dixon-Waters and Tre White are also next up in production as guards too. Dixon-Waters averages 10 PPG and Tre White averages 9 PPG.
This is going to be one of the games of tournament. Michigan State is very experienced and well-coached, while USC is more athletic. The difference in this game feels like it’s going to be coaching and Tom Izzo is one of the best in the business. The Spartans win a very close game, that comes down to the wire, but cover the 2-point spread.
USC vs. Michigan State Prediction: Michigan State -2
USC vs. Michigan State Odds
Michigan State is a 2-point favorite against USC in Columbus and is at -135 on the money line. The over/under is also at 137.5. Michigan State being favored makes sense because they’re more experienced and have the better coach in Tom Izzo. The over/under also makes sense because each team can get hot on offense, but is also solid on defense. This spread could also move before tip-off because it’s so low.
USC vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Can Boogie Ellis matchup with Tyson Walker? Can Drew Peterson matchup with Joey Hauser?
Tyson Walker vs Boogie Ellis
Tyson Walker has been great for the Spartans this season. He averages 15 points, 3 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game for the season. He’ll be matched up against Boogie Ellis most of the game, who averages 18 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds per game for the season. Boogie Ellis is the most consistent part of the Trojans team. Walker is one of the biggest reasons why I have Michigan State covering the 2-point spread against USC.
Drew Peterson vs Joey Hauser
Drew Peterson is a do-it-all wing player for the Trojans this season. He averages 14 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds per game for the season. He’ll be matched up against Joey Hauser most of the game, who averages 14 points, 2 assists, and 7 rebounds per game for the season. Hauser is the most reliable three-point shooter the Spartans have too at 45.6%. Peterson has the best chance of helping USC pull this win off outright because of how much he does for the team, but Michigan State is still the more reliable pick in this game to win and cover.