College Basketball Betting – Michigan State Spartans at Virginia Cavaliers

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:

A marquee matchup of top-20 teams highlights the ACC/Big Ten Challenge when the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans take on the No. 18 Virginia Cavaliers on Wednesday nightUpdate: This game has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Cavaliers’ program. The Spartans slipped into the top-5 by winning their first five games of the year, including an upset of Duke at Cameron Indoor a week ago. UVA went the other way, falling from the top-5 after an upset loss to San Francisco. The Cavs nearly dropped another game to an unranked opponent before holding off Kent State in overtime the last time out.  Bookmaker.eu offers a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1600)

Michigan State Spartans at Virginia Cavaliers
Date and Time: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 9:15 p.m. ET (Postponed)
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
Opening College Basketball Odds: Virginia -3.5, O/U (check back later)
Michigan State at Virginia TV Coverage: ESPN

Odds Analysis

Michigan State is catching points on the opening line which isn’t a bad thing. The Spartans went into Cameron Indoor last week as a 4-point dog and upset the No. 6 Blue Devils 75-69. MSU improved to 5-0 SU with a 79-61 win over Western Michigan last time out, failing to cover the 23.5-point line. Sparty is 2-3 ATS with their three cover losses coming as a favorite of 22 points or more. The early part of the season will remind us all of what can happen. Ranked No. 4 in the preseason polls, the Cavs were upset 61-60 by USF in the second game of the season laying 15-points on the closing line. They had another close call last week against Kent State, avoiding another upset loss by pulling out a 71-64 overtime verdict as a 21.5-point favorite. Overall UVA is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS.

Michigan State Spartans

There were a lot of unknowns surrounding the Spartans entering the season, which is probably why they were ranked lower in the national polls. So far it’s turned out to be a good start. The Spartans will attempt to crack the code on Virginia’s stifling defense with Rocket Watts running the show. Watts started the season coming off the bench dealing with knee soreness but has taken over at the point with stellar play.

Watts sparked the win over Duke scoring 20 points. He followed that with a 23-point effort in the win over Detroit-Mercy and added 10 points and six assists against Western Michigan to solidify his spot as the starting point guard. Watts is the second-leading scorer at 13.6 points per game with the number brought down by his 2-point effort in the opener. Transfer Joey Hauser averages a double-double with team-highs of 14.0 points and 10 rebounds per game. Hauser will be playing against his brother Sam, which is one reason why this game was added to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge slate.

The Cavs don’t give up a lot of points and they frustrate opponents with their stifling defense. Watts is expected to bust the pressure in transition and Hauser has to knock down shots. Joey shoots 54.3 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. As a team the Spartans average 80 points, which is 22.5 points more per game than UVA allows. The key to winning is simple: score the basketball.

Virginia Cavaliers

The bread and butter of the Virginia program is defense. The Cavs won the 2018 national championship allowing just 56.1 points for the season to lead the nation. They also ranked among the top-5 in defensive efficiency. And that hasn’t changed. We’re only four games in but the trademark style is in place. The Cavs have held two opponents to fewer than 55 points and allow an average of 57.5 per game.

The matchup with Michigan State is a little different, though. The toughest opponent until now was probably USF, and the Cavs lost. Facing Sparty presents a number of new challenges for a team with several new faces playing a key role. One of the newcomers is Sam Hauser, who leads the team with 14.5 points per game. He helped the Cavs avoid another upset loss by scoring six of his 18 points in overtime to hold off Kent State. And like his brother, Sam can shoot the basketball. He’s making 58.5 percent of his field goals and nearly 44 percent of his three-pointers.

Another first-year player Trey Murphy III averages 10.8 points playing nearly 20 minutes per game. He’s part of a rotation that features 10 players playing more than 10 minutes a night. That’s incredible depth to have when playing Towson and St. Francis, but will it work against a heavyweight like Michigan State? We’re about to find out just how much confidence coach Tony Bennett has in his bench.

Bet Michigan State at Virginia at BookMaker.eu

Whichever team plays its style best improves its chances of winning. Michigan State wants to attack in transition and score, and they have the horses to do it. Virginia is all about defense and wants this game to be in the 60s. We’re likely to go somewhere in between and the Cavs’ depth should be a factor. However, I can’t get the loss to USF and the overtime win over Kent State out of my head. UVA will end up being one of the top teams in the ACC and the country, but they aren’t right now.

College Basketball Score Prediction: Michigan State 68, Virginia 64

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- Phil Simon, Gambling911.com

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