Michigan State-Ohio State Line has Buckeyes as big -12 Favorites

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Michigan State-Ohio State Line

The Michigan State-Ohio State line was listed at -12 in favor of the Buckeyes coming into Tuesday night’s game.  The total on this one is 135.5.

This was far from being a lovely Valentine’s weekend for Thad Matta and his Ohio State Buckeyes. First they traveled to Madison, WI to play their toughest road game of the season and lost to the Wisconsin Badgers, 71-67, after blowing a 15-point, second-half lead. On Valentine’s Day when the new rankings came out, Ohio State had fallen from its number one slot. Less catastrophic, yet still distracting, sort of, was the issue of what happened immediately after the loss to Wisconsin, where Buckeyes star center Jared Sullinger claimed on his Twitter account that a Badger fan spit on him amidst the celebratory avalanche of fans that rushed the court. Now that the pursuit of perfection is over, the job of pursuing a national championship begins anew. Tuesday night the bruised No. 2 Buckeyes will re-focus themselves on facing Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, who know a thing or two about reaching Final Fours.

This is usually the time of year when fans of Big Ten basketball expect the Spartans to hit that mid-February switch and make that push that will carry them through the tournament and possibly a Final Four. The Spartans are in need of a push, but this time, they need that push just to get them into the NCAAs. Michigan State (14-10, 6-6) has lost five of its past seven games, and some of the words being used to describe the team’s performance are new to the Spartans lexicon. After a 72-52 defeat at Iowa on February 2, Izzo said "That was the worst performance of a team that I've coached since I've been at Michigan State." Junior forward Draymond Green (13.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG) described the feeling after the game as "Rock bottom.”

The Spartans have dropped five straight road games by an average margin of defeat of 13.8 PPG. Lost within those numbers, the fact that those games were lost by 4, 9, 10, 20 and 26 points in that order. Translation, this team is getting worse on the road, not better. Now they must go into Value City Arena, where the Buckeyes are undefeated this season. Michigan State is hoping that the momentum of Thursday’s 75-57 victory over Penn State will carry over into its date in Columbus. In that game, Draymond Green became the third Spartan player to register a triple-double by tallying 15 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. That 10th assist might have been costly as Delvon Roe was fouled hard on the basket and limped off the court. Top scorer Kalin Lucas (16.2 PPG) added 24 points in the win. MSU lost to Ohio State in East Lansing last season, but took two out of three from the Buckeyes in 2009, including a 78-67 victory in its last visit to Columbus. Izzo wants to see his team answer the challenge. "It's a great opportunity and that's what I'm trying to sell to the guys. We've got a great opportunity to re-establish ourselves."

In many ways the Buckeyes were victimized by a taste of their own medicine in the Wisconsin loss, as the Badgers used a blistering 50% day from three-point range (12-of-24) to outscore the Ohio State from beyond the arc, 36-9. William Buford led the Buckeyes with 21 points, and Sullinger added 19 points and 13 boards, but collectively they were no match for a Badger squad that used a 15-0 second half run, keyed by Jordan Taylor’s eight straight points to ignite the comeback. Matta will now turn to his seniors like Jon Diebler to get the team re-committed to the bigger task of this season: winning a Big Ten title, and then winning a bigger title down the road. "We didn't come into the season trying to go undefeated. Obviously, it would have been nice. But we're still two games up on second place in the Big Ten. And that's our first goal -- to win the Big Ten," Diebler said, adding "Yes, we lost. Yes, it's not acceptable to lose. But it's not the end of the world. We still have six games left and we're sitting in a pretty good position right now.”

Although Michigan State is one of the worst bets in the nation (7-16 ATS overall, 3-9 ATS on road, 3-9 ATS vs. Big Ten), the Buckeyes are just 6-7 ATS at home despite their 16-0 SU home mark.

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