The Michigan State Spartans were eliminated in last season’s “Sweet Sixteen” by the Duke Blue Devils, but are considered top contenders by sports odds makers for the 2013-2014 campaign. Tom Izzo’s squad returns its leading scorer Keith Appling, along with top shooter and rebounder Adreian Payne.
Appling finished last year notching 13.4 PPG, while he and his mates held foes to a stingy 57.7 PPG over their final nine contests. Payne logged a double-double in six of his last 11 matchups, while adding a combined 17 blocks over that stretch.
Michigan State’s Gary Harris is also back after a stellar first year, hitting 41.1 percent beyond the arc en route to 12.9 PPG. The Indiana native was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year, while exploring NBA Draft possibilities but returned to Izzo’s crew for at least one more season.
Spartans add to frontcourt
Michigan State has power forward Gavin Schilling joining its roster, along with frontcourt mate Alvin Ellis. Schilling and Ellis both hail from Chicago, signing with the Spartans after playing with De La Salle Institute.
Spartans forward Kenny Kaminski missed last season’s actson with a shoulder injury, returning this year as a redshirt freshman. The Ohio native should add his share of depth here, coming in for last year’s campaign with some high marks from scouts.
Sports books respecting Izzo’s squad
NCAA odds have priced Michigan State at 13/1 to win this season’s “Big Dance,” grouping the Spartans among its leading five contenders. Duke and Louisville also 8/1 at William Hill, with the trio of schools behind the sports betting shop’s top two choices, Kentucky (3/1) and Kansas (5/1).
Michigan State begins its year with November’s ‘cupcake’ clash facing the McNeese State Cowboys, while squaring off in a key affair against Kentucky in Chicago’s “Champions Classic.” The Spartans then host the Portland Pilots as part of the “Coaches vs Cancer Classic,” followed by December’s action featuring a date against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the “Big Ten/ACC Challenge.”
Big Ten Conference play will have pairs of matchups for Michigan State against top foes Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana. Izzo’s squad split its regular season duels with Ohio State and Michigan last year, while being swept by Indiana.
The six pack of battles saw the Spartans cash at betting windows with a 4-2 ATS mark, while logging a 61-58 defeat as 1.5-point dogs to Ohio State during March’s Big Ten Tournament.
For your NCAA picks, look for the Spartans to again be part of the Big Ten’s top squads, jockeying for postseason seeding with Ohio State down this year’s stretch. Futures ticket prices have Michigan State a bit overvalued as sports picks given the road ahead, but look to back Harris and Co. in early-season duels as they pile on points for the polls.
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