Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 1:31 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 1:31 PM GMT

The Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes both have premiere coaches roaming the sidelines, as the two programs prepare to renew their rivalry Tuesday night.

Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball lines for this Big Ten Conference affair at the Breslin Center, with the opening tip scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Strength of schedule

Ohio State is off to a perfect 15-0 SU record, but it has just one win over a previously ranked team in Marquette back on Nov. 16.

The Buckeyes are off to a perfect 2-0 start in conference play, including an 84-53 blowout victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers as 15.5-point home favorites last Saturday, while going OVER the betting total for a second consecutive contest.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 2-5 SU and 4-3 ATS as an underdog, with the OVER going 4-3 in that situation.

Playing great basketball

Michigan State is 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS since suffering its only loss to North Carolina on Dec. 4, while the UNDER has cashed in five of those six opportunities.

The Spartans own a +11.7 rebounding margin over their last six games, as they prepare to play just the second AP Top-Five matchup in this venue’s history.

Since the 2011-12 campaign, the squad has compiled a perfect 4-0 SUATS mark as home favorites of 3.5 to 6 points.

Perfecting his Craft

College basketball handicappers need to take a long look at the road underdog in this high-profile matchup, considering Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft has averaged 12.4 points per game in winning four of his seven starts in this series.

The senior is the program’s all-time leader in assists and steals—leading directly to 109 career wins.

Ohio State also owns a 10-9 SU advantage in this rivalry since head coach Thad Matta arrived in Columbus, OH.

Dominant situation

The Spartans have won 16 of 18 conference home openers under longtime head coach Tom Izzo, including the last 11 in that situation.

Michigan State is certainly capable of extending that winning streak, considering it has four probable starters averaging in double figures, with sophomore guard Gary Harris leading the way at 18.2 points a contest.

Make sure to check out our NCAAB Picks for Baylor Bears vs. Iowa State Cyclones

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Buckeyes for their college basketball picks, as the underdog is 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings in this series.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Ohio State Buckeyes +5.5

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