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NCAA Basketball Picks March 8 – Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans Betting

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Mar/08/2019

The Michigan Wolverines can get a share of the Big Ten regular season title and the top-seed in the upcoming conference tournament with a win over rival Michigan State on Saturday.


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There’s also a little payback involved after the Spartans strolled into Ann Arbor a few weeks back minus some key personnel and posted an enormous victory. Michigan responded to that defeat by winning two in a row, including a takedown of Maryland that featured two nationally-ranked squads.

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans

Date and Time: Saturday, March 9, 2019, 8 p.m. ET

Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

Opening CBB Odds: Check Back Later

Michigan at Michigan State TV Coverage: ESPN

Odds Analysis

Michigan had the inside track to the Big Ten regular season title until losing to MSU a few weeks ago. That put the ball in Sparty’s court, but a loss to Indiana hurt them, giving Purdue a clear path. The Boilermakers apparently didn’t want it, dropping a game in Minnesota to create a three-way tie at the top of the standings. All that happened in the span of two weeks. The winner of this game will get at least a share of the crown and could walk away with the title if Purdue is upset again. Such is life in the Big Ten.

If you think winning the regular season crown doesn’t mean anything to these teams, think again. It’s all both Jim Beilein and Tom Izzo talked about prior to this matchup. Add the intensity of the rivalry to the mix and you have what should be a hard fought contest. The Spartans will be kicking themselves over a pair of inexplicable losses to Indiana. The Hoosiers handed MSU its only home loss about a month ago, 79-75, in overtime. Sparty had a tough time from the free throw line, which is unusual for a team that shoots 74.4 percent from the stripe. The Spartans have been good to their backers when playing at Breslin Center, posting an 11-4 ATS record.

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Michigan

The Wolverines aren’t deep and the short bench cost them in the first meeting. Losing Charles Matthews didn’t help their chances either. Matthews tweaked his ankle in that first meeting, and though he returned to the contest he was clearly affected. The team’s third leading scorer managed just four points on 1 of 8 shooting. Playing without Matthews the last two games UM has gotten production from everyone that sees extensive playing time.

Isaiah Livers took over the starting role for Matthews, chipping in with 11 points and five rebounds in the Maryland game. Livers started a number of games last season and embraced his role as sixth-man this year. His move does weaken the bench, however. Three reserves played a total of 13 minutes against the Terps and Colin Castleton was the only one to score. It’s been a common theme for UM so don’t expect the guys to fatigue so easily. They will need to play better defensively after allowing MSU to make 50 percent of its shots while scoring 77 points in the first matchup.

Michigan State

With a much deeper bench than their opponent, the Spartans can exploit a number of areas, just like they did two weeks ago. And the driving force is Cassius Winston, who played every second in the first meeting totaling 27 points and eight assists. One would think taking the second and third leading scorers off the floor would impact the offense, but that hasn’t been the case for MSU.

Joshua Langford was lost for the year and Nick Ward is shelved with a broken hand. Combined those two are averaging over 30 points per game. In four contests minus the duo, the Spartans have averaged 75.3 points per game. It’s over four points per game below their season average, but you wouldn’t expect the number to be higher. Kenny Goins scored 24 points and Matt McQuaid had 22 in the win over Nebraska, offsetting an eight-point night from Winston.

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The schedule-makers are patting themselves on the back over this treat. The fierce rivals battling with the Big Ten title at stake should make for a great game, and you can expect the big names to show up. When Michigan scores 70 points you expect them to win with the shutdown defense they employ. And that had been the case with a 13-0 record in such games prior to the first meeting with MSU. The Spartans scored the second-most points allowed by UM this season in their 77-70 win and they made it look easy with a shortened roster. I’m not sure they will be able to duplicate that effort against an inspired Wolverines team. I like MSU’s depth compared to Michigan, and playing at home in the regular season finale will ignite Sparty to another big win.

CBB Score Prediction: Michigan State 70, Michigan 67

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