College Basketball Pick
Michigan State has silently crept back to the top of the AP Poll, now No. 2, its highest ranking since early January. The Spartans have won five straight Games and are looking like a real threat to grab a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State is still fighting for a chance to get a spot in the Tourney, but may need a win in East LAnsing to reach that feat. The Buckeyes were thought to be done once Jae’sean Tate was declared out for the season, but after losing to MSU by 19 points at home, they picked up a big win against Iowa over the weekend.
But when these teams met in Columbus just over a week ago, the Buckeyes simply didn’t have enough scoring to take down this hot-shooting Michigan State team. Marc Loving (19 points) and JaQuan Lyle (16 points) actually had decent Games, but without much presence on the bench or someone to give the ball to in the post, OSU was outmatched.
That’ll likely be the case in this Game unless the Buckeyes can play a little better defense. In addition, this is the last home Game for the Spartans, meaning seniors Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes will want to go out with a big win. All three of those guys dominated the first meeting, combining for 60 points as Forbes and Valentine went 11-of-17 from deep. Costello was in Tom Izzo’s dog house in the first half, but he eventually finished with 16 points in 20 minutes of action.
Michigan State ended up going 14-of-22 from 3 in that Game, but that’s almost the norm for them these days. While they may not be as hot from deep, the Spartans still have the edge at every position on the offensive end. The Buckeyes don’t have someone that can lockdown Valentine, and they’ll need someone that can stick to Forbes, which they weren’t close to doing in the first Game. And even then, their bigs aren’t good enough to handle Costello.
Ohio State’s main advantage in the first Game came via Marc Loving and drawing fouls. They attempted 14 more free throws in that first Game, but still lost by 19, not a good sign. Loving will have to do a little more for the Buckeyes to have a shot. MSU will use mostly Valentine on Loving, but Loving’s length was a problem in that first contest and a reason he had 19 points. But who else will step up? Keita Bates-Diop is one guy that can step up after dropping 19 points against Iowa, but he had trouble doing much in the first meeting, often matched with the lengthy Deyonta Davis.
The Spartans are rolling and have won their last Four home Games by double digits, with one of those coming against Big Ten’s first-place team, Indiana. Throw in the final home Game for Michigan State’s best players and this could be another huge result for the Spartans. Ohio State will need to play better defense to have a shot and at this point, that may not be a possibility against the home team.
predicted Score- Michigan St 79 Ohio St 62