Michigan State to Come Through in Clutch at Wisconsin

Doug Upstone

Sunday, February 25, 2018 12:57 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 12:57 PM UTC

Michigan State is guaranteed a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and can win it outright with a victory at Wisconsin in early Sunday afternoon college hoops action (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Sunday College Basketball: Michigan State vs. WisconsinFree NCAAB : Michigan State -7.5Best Line Offered: YouWager

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The Spartans have to do everything possible to speed up the Badgers. If Michigan State can accomplish this, that will make their task in winning at the Kohl Center much easier. If not, Tom Izzo's club will be in a 40-minute battle with Wisconsin.

The college basketball odd board has Michigan State favored by 7.5-points. Does this make them a good or bad choice for our NCAAB picks?

For Michigan State it is Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

Having seen second-ranked Michigan State (27-3, 15-14-1 ATS) play nine times this season, the book on them is rather complete. When the Spartans are playing fast and running, they can win the national championship. This team averages 82.6 points a game and is the No. 1 field-goal percentage defense at 36.1 percent.

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If there is a weakness regarding the Spartans it is the lack of a killer instinct at times when really pressed. Granted, they have lost only three games, but they do not always look to stomp on teams when the action is slower and they are not dictating the faster pace.

That almost certainly will happen against Wisconsin, and Sparty's key number is 72 points. If Michigan State falls below that figure, they are 5-2 and a miserable 1-6 ATS. Izzo understands this contest could be a grinder and will stress defense to generate runs, like 6-0 or 10-2, which could give them a working margin.

For Wisconsin, it is Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

In a shockingly lost season for Wisconsin (14-16, 13-16 ATS), there is still hope of reaching a postseason tournament if they can reach .500. The Badgers have made strides late in the season and have won four of five and covered six of their past seven contests.

What has changed is vastly improved ball movement, which has led to better shots. If you had seen Wisconsin most of the year, the ball would stick to one side of the floor. During this stretch of winning basketball, there is more side-to-side action, along with in and out of the post to forward Ethan Happ (18 PPG), who is also looking for open shooters when double-teamed. The Badgers' shooting accuracy has improved from 45.5 percent to 48 percent in this stretch.

It will be imperative for Wisconsin to slow the tempo to have a chance to win or cover the spread.

Big Ten Sunday Matinee Spread Winner

Not every home team wins on Senior Day but a lot of times there is a great deal of emotion, and I expect Wisconsin to play with plenty today. The problem I see with the Badgers is scoring droughts against Michigan State's defense.

I fully expect the Spartans to be in a real battle for 35 minutes, but at crunch time they will make the shots, play outstanding defense and make their free throws to win 74-64.

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