February 19, 2013
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The college basketball season is coming down the homestretch and that means teams all across the country are making one final push to improve their ranking before the conference tournaments. While some will need a spectacular showing in those conference tournaments to have a shot at earning a spot in March Madness, other teams are fighting for seeding and trying to avoid getting knocked off. There are two of those games tonight where two top-5 teams are facing tough road tests.
#1 Indiana vs. #4 Michigan State (-1.5); Total set at 141
Michigan State has climbed up the rankings in recent weeks as they have won nine of their last 10 with that only loss coming to this Hoosiers team. These two teams sit tied for 1st in the Big Ten conference with 11-2 SU records and tonight's winner will be in the driver's seat for the regular season crown. The Spartans are a perfect 15-0 SU at home this year and would love to extend that streak to 16 tonight, while getting revenge for that earlier loss at the same time.
Indiana shot 50% from the field in that contest yet could never shake Michigan State as the Spartans hung around all game. A large part of that was Michigan State knocking down 11 3-pointers in that game, shooting nearly 50% from that distance. They are a much better shooting team at home and should get plenty of secondary scoring from their role players tonight. It was basically a three-man show in that previous game (Payne, Dawson and Harris combined for 51 of their 70 points) as stars Derrick Nix and Keith Appling were basically non-existent. That won't be the case tonight as these two had a coming out party a week ago here in their blowout win over Michigan and while tonight won't be a blowout, don't be surprised to see Sparty come out on top with a very strong performance.
#5 Florida (-5) vs. Missouri; Total set at 138.5
Like Indiana, the Gators are out on the road to play an undefeated home team that is looking for revenge. Florida thumped the Tigers 83-52 in their own building about a month ago and come into tonight's test after three straight double-digit victories.
But Missouri has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season in terms of road/home disparity. They are 14-0 SU at home this year and a dismal 1-6 SU away from it. They average 76 points per game on the year but at home that number increases dramatically and they have eclipsed the 90-point plateau in each of their last two contests in this building. That loss to Florida was the most embarrassing moment for this Missouri team this year and chances are they won't shoot 32% from the field while allowing nearly 60% in their own building.
Two of Florida's three straight up losses have come on the road and the last came in Arkansas at the beginning of the month as 11-point favorites. Missouri was just in Arkansas over the weekend and although they lost as well (73-71) they had a much better showing than the Gators did in that building (69-80) and are confident heading into tonight. That Florida loss has stuck in the minds of these Missouri players for some time now as they have been looking forward to another shot at them since that day. Tonight is their chance and they won't disappoint.
These are two extremely tough venues for road teams to come in and get a win, even if they are two of the top teams in the country. Don't be surprised to see both Indiana and Florida lose outright, and I believe at least one of them will.
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