College Basketball Pick
This season of college basketball is different than previous ones in that there is no set list of dominant teams. That has been evident in the struggles of Michigan State. The Spartans started 13-0 and was the No. 1 team in the nation, but have fallen a bit with two straight losses, even with Denzel Valentine back in the lineup.
Maryland is one of those top teams in the country as well, but the Terrapins fell at Michigan last week even though the Wolverines were without their top player. While the standings don’t show it, these two teams could easily finish at the top of the Conference by season’s end. But in their only meeting against each other, these teams won’t make it to the top unless they can beat the conference’s best.
This was a fun matchup a year ago, as they played each other three times. Maryland won in overtime in East LAnsing, then again at home, but Michigan State had the last laugh with a win in the Big Ten Tournament. Even with injuries here and there (Tum Tum Nairn out for MSU), this will likely be a Game that comes down to the wire, much like last year’s Game in East LAnsing.
Starting with the Spartans, one thing they have is depth, but that’s becoming a problem. Tom Izzo is still figuring out a perfect rotation for his group and that was seen last week when he inserted Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid into the starting lineup. But against Wisconsin, Izzo had a better idea of his group with only seven players seeing more than six minutes of action, the first time that’s happened all season (11 guys average at least 8.7 minutes per Game). Expect that same approach here, especially with Nairn out.
Maryland is in that same mold, but they have a more set group of players ranging from seven to eight guys every Game. The talk leading up to this Game will be Denzel Valentine vs. Melo Trimble, but it’s much more than that. Sure, Valentine and Trimble are two of the best players in the country, but these teams can only go as far as the supporting cast will take them.
That’s evident in Trimble’s recent struggles when he only scored 10 points total against Michigan and Ohio State combined. Valentine is probably more vital to his team, but without guys like Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris hitting shots, the Spartans would be just mediocre.
That said, Michigan State will have trouble guarding Trimble without Nairn on the cOurt. Trimble averaged more than 20 points in the three meetings last year and it’s looking like MSU will have to use freshman McQuaid on him, which could be problematic. On the other end, it’ll be interesting to see how Maryland defends Valentine. Jake LAyman will likely draw that matchup and his size will be an issue for Valentine, but Valentine just dealt with Nigel Hayes last week and did just fine.
Deyonta Davis will likely draw Robert Carter, who has been on fire for Maryland as of late, and then Diamond Stone is a difference maker off the bench for the Terps. Matt Costello has been playing well, so it’ll be key for him to match whatever Maryland’s bigs can do. The Terrapins have the edge at more positions, which means Forbes has to be on his Game and Harris will need to do his usual job of drawing fouls and getting to the lane. If one of those guys is cold, the Terps could win another in East LAnsing.
It’s hard to go against Michigan State at home, but without Nairn to defend Trimble, this will be a tall task for the Spartans.
Michigan State 75 Maryland 68