NCAA Basketball Picks: Road Dog Wisconsin To Cover vs. Revengeful Michigan St.

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, February 18, 2016 6:16 PM GMT

It’s a Big Ten Showdown tonight as the white hot Wisconsin Badgers take on the surging Spartans of Michigan State. Let’s review etermine which side will cash our NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin +9½
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Wisconsin Badgers (16-9 SU, 13-11 ATS)
The Badgers have not only been entertaining their fans with seven consecutive wins over all conference opponents, including three ranked teams, but have been a veritable ATM for all those who have included Wisconsin in their NCAA basketball picks over that stretch. Wisconsin travels to Michigan State tonight as perhaps the hottest team in the country, and their victory over then No. 2 Maryland in their last outing is the coup de grace of this sizzling winning streak. Due to the team’s slow start and nine losses on their record, they have yet to break into the top 25, but a win on the road over ninth ranked MSU would more than likely vault them into that rarified air.

Interestingly enough, the winning became contagious only after they defeated Michigan State at home by the score of 77-76 as six-point underdogs. They have since gone on a tear and now find themselves facing the team that sparked the fire. The Badgers defense has been smothering recently as evidenced by their 70-57 victory over Maryland and have now held opponents to a mere 60.2 points per game over their last four contests.

 

Michigan State Spartans (21-5 SU, 16-9 ATS)
As good as Wisconsin has been, Michigan State has been nearly as good winning five of their last six and covering the NCAA basketball odds in all six including their lone defeat to Purdue as three-point road dogs. This Michigan State squad does it all with their offense led by Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine and a defense that ranks 18th in the nation, allowing just 63.8 points per game. The Spartans are the No. 4 ranked rebounding team in all of D-1 basketball, grabbing an average of 42.4 boards per game and are tops in the nation in assists with 20.7 helpers per contest.

Seniors Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes grew up playing together in Lansing, Michigan and have been reunited since Forbes transferred from Cleveland State after his sophomore season. Both are leading the Spartans offensive surge this season with Valentine averaging 19.5 points per game, while teammate and best friend Forbes is registering an average of 14 points per contest. Forward Matt Costello is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game and the triumvirate of Valentine, Forbes and Costello are the primary movers and shakers on an MSU squad that could make noise in the Big Dance. But first they will have to put the brakes on the Badgers juggernaut and dispense with their Big Ten adversaries tonight.

 

Betting Analysis
Wisconsin has won the last three meetings in the series, including a thrilling 80-69 overtime win in last year's Big Ten Tournament championship game, but their luck has not been good in East Lansing having lost eight in a row on MSU’s home court dating back to March 2nd, 2004. Yet, stats like that can often be deceptive as the teams have not played in East Lansing in over three seasons. Therefore, let’s throw that right out of the equation.

We know the Badgers are rolling and we also know MSU is 11-2 straight up and 8-4 ATS at home this season. The Spartans are the better team, but how much better are they? Yes, revenge is a factor after losing that heartbreaker in Wisconsin earlier this season, but giving the Badgers close to double digits is simply too much - way too much for tonight's game. Hence, for our plays for this game we are backing the underdog in Wisconsin.