NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan St. vs. Texas

Joe Catalano

Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:30 PM GMT

Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 4:30 PM GMT

The Texas Longhorns (10-1) look to climb into the nation’s top 25 as they face a beaten up #5 Michigan State (9-1) team. This will be the Spartans toughest test to date on the road with the questionable status of some of their players.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center in Austin, Texas. This game can be seen on CBS. Sportsbooks list Michigan State as a slight 2.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 141.5.

Harris and Trice Likely To Play

There’s no definitive word, but Michigan State is likely to have its leading scorer, Gary Harris (17.6 ppg., 4.4 rpg.) and Travis Trice back in the lineup. Although the Spartans have been able to manage without Harris, he brings a lot to the table and other players are forced to played hurt.

It has been noted that Spartans head coach, Tom Izzo, has held seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling out of practice to rest their injuries. Plantar fasciitis is a nasty heel injury that requires rest, but the Spartans need Adreian Payne in the lineup if they expect to keep winning, especially against a hungry team like Texas, who is looking to crack the top 25.

If the injury has affected Payne, he hasn’t let it show as he led the Spartans in points, rebounds, and assists in a 78-48 blowout over North Florida. Look for Michigan State to be ready. This is a team full of talent and experience to go along with it.

Most Improved Team Of the Year?

Texas is a squad coming off of a sub. 500 season and from the looks of things, is on their way to a respectable ranking in the Big Dance. The Longhorns are coming off of a huge victory over North Carolina, a team that has beaten Michigan State this season.

Texas is a big-time rebounding squad and it showed against UNC as the Longhorns collected 51 rebounds for the game. There are no standout stars on this team; just a collective group effort.

Freshman, Isaiah Taylor, has shown a lot of promise in his first season at the collegiate level. Thomas hasn’t been the most efficient shooter, but is a consistent contributor on a game in, game out basis. In his last 5 games. Taylor has scored in double figures in each game while averaging 14 points per contest. Look for another solid effort from the freshman.

Although he’s had a very difficult time shooting the ball lately, sophomore Javan Felix has come off the bench to be a consistent contributor for Texas. That said, Felix is just 14 of 50 from the field in his last 5 games.

Texas has a very inconsistent offense and must have a big game out of their leading scorer and 2nd leading rebounder, Jonathan Holmes. Even hampered by injuries, Michigan State’s experience is invaluable and this is a step up for Texas to see if they belong with the country’s best teams. Expect a close game as the betting spread indicates.

The Longhorns are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games against the Big Ten. Michigan State is 6-18-2 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight up win of 20 points or more.

I’m going to ignore the trends and side with the Spartans as our NCAA basketball pick. They have too much talent and experience. This is a team geared up to make a run for #1 and a National Championship.

Pick- Michigan State -2.5 at Bet 365

[gameodds]14/252733/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

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