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College Basketball Pick
The beginning of the season hasn't gone to plan for either of these teams, only making this one mean a little more than it should. Ohio State started fine in non-conference play, but can't get a break in the Big Ten. As for Michigan State, things looked slim in non-conference before winning its first three Big Ten games.
With every game seemingly up for grabs in the Big Ten, this is already almost a must-win for the Buckeyes if they want to make the NCAA tournament. They don't have enough good non-conference wins to afford to lose any more games at home. And it starts right here for the Bucks against a beatable Michigan State team.
The Spartans have been an up-and-down team and most of that can be attributed to a couple bigs going down before the season began. Throw in a recent Miles Bridges injury and that's partly how the loss against Penn State happened.
So which inconsistent team has the edge? These teams met three times in the matter of three weeks last season with MSU winning them all, but a lot of that can be chalked up to a late Jae'Sean Tate injury as he didn't appear in any of those games. That's important because Tate leads Ohio State in scoring at 14.5 points and 6.7 boards per game. He may be the only consistent player on the team, which has been the team's main issue as of late.
Guys like JaQuan Lyle, Marc Loving and Kam Williams can have their moments, but that doesn't happen every game. Even Trevor Thompson will dominate the paint like when he went for 15 points and 15 rebounds at Minnesota on Sunday, but he's always in foul trouble, which doesn't help. That issue for Thompson could come to light quickly in this game as freshman Nick Ward is one of the best in the nation at drawing fouls, almost at 10 fouls drawn per 40 minutes. If that's the case, Ohio State's lack of depth without Keita Bates-Diop will show. Freshman Micah Potter will be tasked to defend Ward if Thompson gets into foul trouble and that's not a good thing.
But there are spots in which Ohio State can excel. While Loving and Lyle don't put their best foot forward every game, both could be set up for solid games in this one. MSU doesn't have the most size at guard or forward, while Bridges is a mediocre defender at best. The other issue for the Spartans is that Bridges still isn't fully healthy and that in turn hurts both sides of the court. He's already a poor defender, but if he isn't making plays offensively, then that's an issue.
To get a win on the road Michigan State will need something from the inconsistent Eron Harris and freshman point guard Cassius Winston. Harris usually has trouble with bigger defenders and could run into that here while Winston was almost a complete no-show in the loss to Penn State.
The Spartans may have the more talented freshman, but the Buckeyes have more experience and on their home court, that may be all they need to get their first win of the Big Ten campaign.
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