NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan State Will Cover ATS With Their Valentine vs. Michigan

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, February 6, 2016 12:27 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 12:27 PM UTC

The Spartans have one of the best players in college basketball in Denzel Valentine. Will he be enough to carry the Spartans in this heated in-state rivalry? Let's check the NCAA Basketball odds.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan State -3.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


It’s Sparty versus the A-Maizing Wolverines as a highly ranked Michigan State (19-4, 6-4) team travels to Ann Arbor to visit their cross-state rival Michigan Wolverines (17-6, 7-3). There is no home and home to this series anymore so the winner will have the crown of the mitten hand state for what should be an entire year or more.

This game has been off the board for some time waiting on word of the return of Michigan star, Caris Levert, from injury. On the Michigan State side, starting sophomore guard Lourawls Nairn is also doubtful to play but could be a game time decision. In this matchup Michigan State has the depth to overcome an injury while Michigan on a whole does not.

Now that a line has been put up on this game, we find that the Spartans are favored by 3.5 points across the board. The early O/U total has been posted at 145.5.

This will be the second game of a short home stand for the Wolverines, who had hoped to use it to keep up with the leaders of the Big Ten in conference play. But a walloping by the Indiana Hoosiers on Tuesday has Michigan just hoping for a split. The loss to the Hoosiers featured a 25-0 run by Indiana to end the first half and Michigan really didn’t have a chance in the game following that run. Michigan also didn’t have Chris Levert’s 17.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game average in the matchup either.

In his steed, junior guard Zak Irvin played 37 minutes and led the Wolverines with 16 points on 6-16 shooting from the field. Junior forward, Duncan Robinson, was the only other Michigan player who scored in double digits chipping in 14 points on 6-11 shooting. Without Levert the Wolverines depend heavily on a rotation of about six players averaging double digit minutes. That could be one reason that Michigan got beat handily on the glass, as Indiana outrebounded the Wolverines by a margin of 39-28.

Michigan State will come into this game plenty rested as they played last on Sunday, January 31st. That game was also a blowout, a 96-62 crushing of Rutgers, so a total of 15 players saw minutes in the game. Michigan State’s star, Denzel Valentine, was very efficient in his 30 minutes and led the Spartans with 20 points on 46.7% shooting from the field. Valentine has scored 19 points or more in five games in a row now, and is a leading candidate for the Naismith Award. The senior guard is averaging 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game this season.

Valentine will be looking for a little bit of personal redemption this season against Michigan as he only scored 6 points in the game against the Wolverines last year over 34 minutes. The Spartans won that meeting 80-67 as 5-point road favorites. It was the second game in a row that Michigan State has won in Ann Arbor SU and ATS. You can bet, somewhere I’m sure, that Valentine will score more than 20 in this one because he should.

Funny enough, the head-to head matchups between these two teams over the last ten meetings are not helpful at all. Both teams are 5-5 SU, 5-5 ATS, and 5-5 O/U. In the end though I think Michigan State will have what it takes to overcome a shorthanded Michigan squad, and I’m comfortable laying the points on the road here. I’m taking Sparty at -3.5 on Saturday as one of my NCAA Basketball Picks.

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