Strong Home Court Advantage Makes Michigan St. Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Rutgers

Jason Lake

Sunday, January 31, 2016 1:59 PM GMT

Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 1:59 PM GMT

Sunday's game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Michigan State Spartans should be a blowout: The NCAA basketball odds have Sparty laying 27.5 points at home.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan State -27.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Jan. 30: 2-2 ATS, 1-0 Totals

Welcome to Rutgers: the Birthplace of College Football. The Scarlet Knights have had mixed success on the gridiron since that first game against Princeton in 1869, but things are looking up for the program now that they're in the Big Ten. The basketball program? Well... at least they have one. Rutgers (6-15 SU, 8-8 ATS) is one of the very worst teams among the major conferences in Division I.

This Sunday (5:15 p.m. ET, BTN), the Knights get to play one of the very best teams in college: the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans. Should be fun. The Spartans (18-4 SU, 12-9 ATS) made the Final Four last year for the seventh time since Tom Izzo took over the coaching reins in 1995. It's enough of a mismatch that Michigan State opened as a 26.5-point home chalk on our NCAA basketball odds board, then moved immediately to -27.5. The spread might be even larger by the time you read this.

 

Run It Up
I'd have to go digging through the files, but I'm pretty sure this is the biggest spread we've ever dealt with here at the home office. Naturally, we're putting the giant favorites in our NCAA basketball picks. Wait, what? That's not like us. The underdog is supposed to be the sharp choice in these situations. It's not easy to beat a basketball team by four touchdowns.

But that's how Izzo rolls. Since 2010, the Spartans are 8-0 ATS when favored by at least 25 points. During non-conference play this year, they crushed the Binghamton Bearcats (representing the American East) 76-33 as 31-point home faves. Then Michigan State pummeled the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (representing the MEAC) 78-35 as a 34.5-point home chalk. Ho hum.

 

Freeman For My People
The hoopheads at Sports-Reference think 27.5 points is perfectly reasonable, too. They've got Michigan State at +21.8 on the Simple Rating System, tops in the Big Ten at press time, while Rutgers is way down below the ocean at -5.4 SRS. Add that up, give Sparty four points for home-court advantage, and you get a kayfabe point spread around MSU -31.

But wait, there's more: Rutgers has been without junior forward DeShawn Freeman (21.6 PER, +2.1 BPM) since mid-December with a sore knee. Freeman, a highly-touted JUCO transfer from Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas, was supposed to miss just two weeks of action, but that timetable has obviously been thrown out the window – he's gone for the season. Freeman was easily the best of the Knights during the seven games he played, small sample size notwithstanding. We're happy to put MSU in our Sunday's picks, but even with that stellar ATS record as a massive favorite, consider a smallish bet size.

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