Lose one, win one has been the recent trend for Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. They'll try to bring that to a halt Sunday, maintain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten and gain a little revenge against the team that started the trend for our college basketball picks.
A second road game in three days awaits the Spartans with their visit to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines. State holds a slim half-game lead over the Wolverines in the conference race and is looking for its first 2-game win streak in more than a month.
CBS provides the telecast from Crisler Center starting at 12 PM (ET). SBR's live college basketball odds will have all the betting options just as soon as sports books release lines for the clash.
Sunday's battle is the second meeting of the season and 173rd in the long history between the rivals. They first got together Jan. 25 in East Lansing where both were sporting unbeaten conference marks. Michigan left town with an 80-75 upset as a 5 point underdog, taking the lead for good with a little more than three minutes remaining and scoring 15 of its final 20 points at the free-throw line.
That was only the second time in the last 15 tries that the Wolverines exited East Lansing with a dubya, and gave Michigan a 96-76 all-time lead in the series. The Wolverines have won the last three on their home floor, and the 'under' has cashed four of the last five in Ann Arbor.
Spartans Off Record Performance At Purdue
Some of the inconsistency that Michigan State (22-5 straight up, 16-10 against the spread) has been experiencing can be attributed to injuries. Only two Spartans, Denzel Valentine and Gavin Schilling, have been able to answer the bell for all 27 games to date, and Izzo has been forced to deal with the absence of one or more of his top four scorers at various times.
They are finally getting healthy and could be back to full strength within a week if Branden Dawson's timetable holds true. The junior wing has missed the last eight games with a broken right hand, but could be back on the court before the Spartans close out the regular season.
Michigan State didn't need Dawson at Purdue on Thursday night when Adreian Payne and Gary Harris led a 3-point barrage in the 94-79 win over the Boilermakers. That duo combined for a 10-of-15 performance from beyond the arc, part of a Spartans record 17 treys on the evening, and the easy cover as 6 point road chalk was the fifth winning ticket in State's last seven games.
Spartans 4th-Straight Ranked Foe For Maize & Blue
Michigan State has company in the lose one, win one department as Michigan (18-7 SU, 12-10-1 ATS) has been following the same formula the last few weeks. John Beilein's squad would be in line for a victory if the trend follows, which works out perfect since the Spartans are due a defeat if the same holds true for them.
The Wolverines are taking the floor for the first time since last Sunday's whipping at the hands of Wisconsin, a 75-62 decision which marked their first home loss on the Big Ten schedule. Michigan trailed from the outset and came out cold with just two field goals among the first 11 tries.
Michigan State played much of the first meeting vs. the Wolverines with four guards on the floor as both Payne and Dawson missed that contest. Having Payne in the mix on Sunday will definitely help the Spartans, but will his presence be enough to grab the outright win or at least the cover?
I'm inclined to believe it will, and lean to the Spartans for my free college basketball pick in this Big Ten battle.
College Basketball Pick: Lean Michigan State