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College Basketball Pick
Both of these teams need to get the bad taste out of their mouths after last Sunday's losses. Wisconsin was the first to go down and they did so as double-digit favorites. The Badgers were outscored at home in the second half by 18 points against the Boilermakers. Their shots were just not falling for them. Michigan State lost by one point at Michigan which was their third straight loss. While that sounds bad, all three of those teams are ranked in the Top 20. Even with those losses, neither team fell that much in the AP Poll as MSU went down one spot to No. 10 and Wisconsin down five spots to No. 22.
The Spartans need the win a little bit more as it looked as though the Badgers just took their foot off the pedal in their loss. Wisconsin won their previous three games by an average of 27 points. That's one of the best streaks all year in the Big 10.
Just a couple weeks ago MSU was riding their high horse with an 11-2 record, a Top Five ranking and projected to be a No. 1 seed. Now, Michigan State has dropped all the way to a projected three seed in many places. A loss here might even see them drop to the four spot. The Badgers would like a win here, but in reality a loss wouldn't hurt them that much. Beating upper echelon teams on the road is not an easy thing to do in the Big 10.
The last time these teams played was the definition of brutal. The game finished 49-47 with Michigan State getting the win. Neither team looked particularly good. The Badgers basically threw the game away as they only hit 7-of-18 shots from the charity stripe.
That was a much different time for the Spartans as Keith Appling and Branden Dawson combined for 37 of their 49 total points in that game. To put that number into perspective, Dawson and Appling only have 36 combined points for the last three games. The two have struggled mightily as of late and are the main reasons they have lost three straight games. Dawson's offensive game has completely disappeared while Appling is suddenly a less than average point guard that can never make the important play. If those two continue to struggle, it might not be a great March for Tom Izzo and his team.
Where Appling and Dawson have been bad, Adreian Payne and Gary Harris have picked up the slack. Harris is their best offensive threat and now has scored at least 14 points in five straight games. Payne is averaging 15 points and 12 boards over the last four games. If all of them can get back to normal form, this should be an easy win for MSU, but that's easier said than done.
The Badgers have been off and on all season. They didn't have any good wins out of the conference and weren't supposed to be a big threat in the Big 10. After they started with four straight wins including one at Indiana, respect was granted. Since that game, you never really knew how they were going to perform. That's what happens when you play slow and deliberate basketball and shoot a bunch of three-pointers.
That starts with their leading scorer Jared Berggren because he's not the greatest of shooters. Against Purdue, he hoisted six three-pointers and only made one even though he shoots under 30 percent for the season from long range. That probably wasn't in the game plan. Ben Brust has been one of Wisconsin's more consistent players, but he forces shots once in a while. Sam Dekker has been their main spark lately hitting double-digits in six straight games.
Most of the matchups in this game favor Michigan State and that's why no one had more than 10 points for the Badgers in the last meeting. The Spartans are back in East Lansing and will come out with fire on the heels of three straight losses. MSU has a chance to bust this one wide open, but the Badgers probably won't let that happen if they can slow the game down to their usual pace.
Predicted Score - Michigan State 57 Wisconsin 55
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