Big Ten rivals collide on Tuesday's college basketball betting slate when Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans travel to meet the Michigan Wolverines, losers of their last four.
What struck me first when seeing the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday college basketball betting card was I couldn't remember the last time the two matched up with neither of them ranked. Turns out I have a very short memory, since that was the situation a little more than two weeks ago when they met in East Lansing.
Michigan has a chance to earn a little revenge from that overtime loss to the Spartans in tonight's 9 PM (ET) tip on ESPN. The Wolverines will have to gain that revenge as underdogs against their Big Ten rivals, State opening at -4½ before the spread settled at -4 overnight. The NCAA basketball odds will have a total for this game and all others just as soon as sports books release them.
It is indeed a rarity for the two schools to collide on the hardwood without at least one of them being in the top 25 of the AP Poll. Before the February 1 contest at Michigan State, it had been almost four years since that happened, and you have to go back to the 2007 conference schedule to find the last time they met twice with both sides out of the polls.
Michigan was in good position to score the upset in East Lansing before falling completely flat midway through the second half. The Wolverines netted just two field goals the final 10 minutes of regulation to allow the Spartans to force overtime when Michigan State scored all 10 points for the 76-66 victory.
Wolverine backers still got the cash with the 11½ points they were getting, and Michigan has come out on top outright in six of the last nine meetings to build a 97-77 series lead.
Izzo & Company Hit Big Ten Road For Pair
Michigan State (17-8 straight up, 13-12 against the spread) was barely treading water a few weeks ago after getting off to a 4-3 start in conference play. Tom Izzo's troops have since won four of five -- covering three of the victories -- to play their way back into the picture for the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament that is only three weeks away.
The Wolverines needed a bit of luck to grab the win and cover last Saturday at home vs. Ohio State. Fittingly, it was Denzel Valentine who hit the biggest bucket in the 59-56 Valentine's Day decision, the junior swishing a trey in the final few seconds to bring a big sigh of relief to Spartan backers who were giving up 2½ on the NCAA odds.
Ohio State was cold from the line (5-13) and beyond the arc (5-17) all game to help Michigan State along. The Spartans top the list in Big Ten games allowing opponents to convert just 31.3% from long-range.
Maize & Blue Mired In 4-Game Losing Skid
It would take a minor miracle for Michigan (13-12 SU, 10-12-1 ATS) to push its way back into the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Wolverines have lost four consecutive games, the streak started by the Spartans, and they have three tough ones coming up with Ohio State and Maryland trailing Michigan State on the immediate schedule.
John Beilein's boys managed to at least cinch up their belts and cover the spreads in the first four games they were without leading scorer Caris LeVert, but have dropped the cash in two of the subsequent three. A big problem in the Big Ten has been offense where the Wolverines rank ninth averaging 60.2 PPG, and they'll be without Derrick Walton Jr. for a 6th-straight game as the sophomore guard continues to recover from a foot injury.
I'm not all that impressed with either side to be quite honest, but will roll with the visiting Spartans for my free college basketball pick in tonight's match.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan State -4 at 5Dimes
Season: 46-40-1 (+2.0)