NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan State vs. Ohio State

David Lawrence

Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:29 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 16, 2013 1:29 PM UTC

The Michigan State Spartans played with tremendous passion in their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday night. Can they sustain that on Saturday?

College Basketball Betting – Michigan State vs. Ohio State Picks

The NCAA Conference Tounaments continue today with some more fantastic Big Ten action! How should we lay our money against the the lines set before us in this game by the NCAA basketball odds makers?

Michigan State can win because…

It will be fueled by the realization that its effort has been rewarded. Michigan State was trailing Iowa by 12 points early in the second half last night in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Iowa was hitting tough shots late in the shot clock and was getting loose balls on broken plays and in some very unlikely scramble situations. The Spartans couldn't hit a perimeter shot and were failing to convert on some fast-break opportunities, botching some 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 transition situations because they tried to make fancy plays instead of simple ones. Yet, even though Michigan State was trailing, it continued to display great intensity at both ends of the floor.

Eventually, Iowa faltered in the face of the Spartans' pressure. A few perimeter shots began to fall, and the Spartans got a number of cheap points at the foul line. Iowa's legs vanished, as the Hawkeyes' perimeter shooters began to leave every shot well short of the basket, barely grazing the front of the rim on many occasions. Michigan State earned a three-point comeback victory, showing that if it spills the tank, it can experience prosperity.

The Spartans suffered a three-game losing streak late in February, and one of those losses came against Ohio State. In that game, Michigan State's defense played one of its worst games of the season. The Spartans did not react well to switches, and they did not stop ball penetration, with Ohio State guard Aaron Craft torching MSU's defense for at least six layups if not more. Given the passion Michigan State displayed on defense last night against Iowa, this team seems to be in a frame of mind that should produce a much better defensive effort, and if MSU does indeed deliver a stronger defensive game, it will have a great chance to win against the Buckeyes, who lack consistent perimeter shooters and can get bogged down on offense.


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Ohio State can win because…

The Buckeyes have been playing the best basketball and the best defense in the Big Ten over the past two weeks, making coach Thad Matta's team the hottest in the conference. Ohio State looked like a very average NCAA tournament team in the middle of February. The Buckeyes had very few quality wins on their resume, but in the past few weeks, they've transformed themselves into the team that OSU fans were expecting at the beginning of the season. Ohio State defeated Indiana on the road, Michigan State and Illinois at home, and earned the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament after lurking in fifth place for a considerable portion of the regular season. Ohio State's defense is what has become so much better, with players such as Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross dramatically elevating their levels of play, especially at the defensive end of the floor. Aaron Craft is one of the elite on-ball man-to-man defenders in the United States, but with Scott and Ross providing similarly strong defense, opponents are finding it hard to move well against this defense. As long as Ohio State can maintain this level of performance, Michigan State - which lacks clutch perimeter shooters - will likely not be able to find enough offense to win.

Outlook & College Basketball Betting Prediction:

This should be a ferocious defensive game in which points come at a premium. The score might not get any higher than the high 50s on Saturday afternoon in Chicago. Ultimately, Ohio State is playing a better brand of defense, so the Buckeyes should get the lean for our NCAAB picks here, in what figures to be a very close contest.

College Basketball Pick: Ohio State -2 at Bodog

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