College Basketball Pick
Despite similar Conference records, Michigan State and Ohio State will likely have different plans come the end of March. As it stands, the Buckeyes probably won’t make the field of 68, unless they win this Game as well as their next one against Iowa, and then a few in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. And then there’s the Spartans, who may be looking at a 2-seed at the moment.
Ohio State may have one more Conference win, but they also have some bad non-Conference losses and only have one Big Ten win against a team with a winning Conference record (Michigan). The Bucks have improved throughout the year, but this is still a team that lacks against better competition. Their only Conference home loss came against Maryland, although that stat is mostly due to Schedule.
The Spartans have had their troubles on the road, but it’s hard to fault them for a couple one-point losses to Wisconsin and Purdue. They blew out plenty of other teams on the road, including Michigan. Getting the weekend off, MSU is also coming off two huge home wins against Tournament-worthy teams. They’ll be ready for this one.
Ohio State’s main issues revolve around not having a hands down best player on the team that can takeover when the team is struggling. That role fell to D’Angelo Russell last year and no one took that spot this season. At their best, the Bucks get scoring from all of their options, like in the Michigan Game when five guys hit double figures. That’s not always the case, though, with leading scorer (12.6 ppg) Marc Loving being one of the most inconsistent of the bunch. He scored 13 points against Michigan, but had zero in the Game before. Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate can provide sparks, but if those sparks don’t come in the same Game as each other, it’ll likely result in a loss against a good team.
Michigan State is under the category of a good team and the Spartans have been scoring in bunches as of late. Denzel Valentine does everything for this group (19.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.3 apg) and it’s hard to see Ohio State stopping him. On the positive side, OSU can throw a few different options on him with Loving, Tate and Bates-Diop all providing something different whether it’s size or strength. Still, Valentine scored 40 points in the two Games against OSU last year.
And of course, the Spartans still have multiple other options to worry about. Ohio State doesn’t exactly have that lock down defender that can trouble Bryn Forbes, who is shooting nearly 50% from behind the arc. If Forbes gets going, this MSU team is almost unstoppable. Then there’s still Eron Harris to worry about on the perimeter. Trevor Thompson will have his hands full against Matt Costello, who’s averaging a double-double in Conference play.
Another problem is that Loving will probably be defended by freshman Deyonta Davis, who just shut down Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes last Game. With an advantage at every position, the Buckeyes will need to lean on the home crowd to come away with an upset. And there’s also the motivation for grabbing a Tournament bid, which they still have a slim chance at. It has to start here for the Buckeyes, though.
Predicted Score- Michigan State 76 Ohio St 65