The chances are waning for Wisconsin to put together some legit wins and stealing one in East LAnsing would be a good step to starting a run. While that sounds nice, Michigan State is favored by double-digits for a reason. The Spartans had some troubles a week ago, but they’ve beaten up on teams that don’t match up well with them and that’s what could happen here.
Michigan State has already beaten Indiana, Maryland and Nebraska by almost 30 points and Wisconsin falls into the same range as those teams. The Badgers looked great in last Friday’s win against Illinois, but they’ve had issues on the road, losing at both Rutgers and Nebraska, while getting run out of the gym at Purdue.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, nothing points to them having a chance in this Game. The Spartans have major advantages at numerous positions and also have one of the best defenses in the country according to field goal percentage. That doesn’t bode well for a team that has one guy that shoots it better than 38 percent from range (Aleem Ford).
In terms of matchups, Michigan State’s biggest question is deciding what to do against Ethan Happ. Nick Ward will likely start on Happ, but he’ll have a tough time against a guy who often runs the offense for Wisconsin. If Happ can capitalize on that matchup, this Game could get interesting. The problem is that the Spartans have more than just Ward down low as Jaren Jackson is one of the best shot blockers in the country and Gavin SChilling can come off the bench and deal with Happ, as well. Khalil Iverson is an x-factor for Wisconsin, but he’ll likely match up with Miles Bridges when he comes into the Game and that’s a disadvantage. In addition to Happ, the Badgers will need to get something out of Brad Davison and Brevin Pritzl on the perimeter. There’s also hope that D’Mitrik Trice returns from foot surgery, but he’s still not ready for a major role.
On the other end, Wisconsin doesn’t really have anyone to stop Jackson’s length or ability to shoot from deep. Happ will probably be used on Ward and he’ll need all his strength in that matchup. Stopping Bridges will also be a problem for Wisconsin, whether it’s Iverson or Ford that guards him. To keep this Game close, Pritzl and Davison will be called upon to slow up the Michigan State fast break between Cassius Winston and Josh LAngford.
There are pieces for Wisconsin that suggest it can keep this Game close from Happ containing Ward and a solid defensive backcOurt, but that’s still a stretch on the road. There are two outlying stats that suggest the Badgers will struggle in this Game. They rank poorly in defensive three-point percentage and don’t force turnovers. The Spartans are one of the best shooting teams in the country at 41.7 percent from deep. And while they turn it over (25 at Illinois on Monday), that may not be an issue against this Wisconsin defense.
Our Pick – Wisconsin +17