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College Hoops Notebook

Michigan State Staring at Potential 0-2 Week as Wicked Schedule Continues

You almost have to feel sorry for the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans in the next few weeks. Sunday's big home win over then-No. 11 Ohio State began a stretch of where Tom Izzo's club, the reigning Big Ten champion, faces eight ranked teams over a span of 11 games. That's life in the deep Big Ten this season.

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The Spartans (16-3, 5-1) have won five straight (2-2-1 ATS) entering Tuesday's game at Wisconsin. They overcame a monster game from Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, the Big Ten's leading scorer, on Sunday in a 59-56 victory. Thomas had exactly half of the Buckeyes' points and was 10-for-20 from the field, compared to 9-for-27 for the rest of his teammates.

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It's a good thing that MSU has some momentum because this week could be ugly, with a game at No. 7 Indiana on Sunday following Tuesday's matchup with the Badgers, which will have live play-by-play betting at the book. It's somewhat surprising Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1) didn't enter the Top 25 on Monday. The Badgers won at Indiana 64-59 last Tuesday in one of the most impressive wins for any team so far this season. It was UW's highest-ranked road win in school history.

Indiana, the nation's highest-scoring team, finished with fewer than 60 points for the first time this season. UW was a 10.5-point dog in the game but won its 11th straight against Indiana and fifth in a row in Bloomington. Hoosiers coach Tom Crean is still looking for his first win against Wisconsin.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the Badgers suffered a big-time letdown in their next game, losing 70-66 at unranked Iowa. The Badgers, again one of the nation's top defensive teams, allowed 60 points or more for the first time in seven games and just the fifth time all year.

Wisconsin is a five-point favorite for Tuesday's game. Michigan State won all three meetings a season ago, but since 2001-02 the Badgers have the Big Ten's best home record at 86-9. Wisconsin is 10-1 in Madison this season (5-4 ATS). Michigan State is 3-2 in true road games (1-4 ATS). The Badgers are 8-1 at home against MSU under coach Bo Ryan.

Following Wisconsin and Indiana, here is Michigan State's upcoming schedule: versus Illinois (was ranked most of season), versus No. 12 Minnesota (already beat Spartans by 13 this season), at Purdue (lost by 21 in East Lansing on January 5), versus No. 2 Michigan, at Nebraska, versus No. 7 Indiana, at No. 14 Ohio State and at No. 2 Michigan. If the Spartans can make it through this killer upcoming stretch with just a loss or two, and they will likely only be a favorite in three of them, they deserve the Big Ten regular-season title. MSU closes the season with home games against Wisconsin and Northwestern, and Sparty will be favored in both.

Duke's Return To No. 1 Short Lived?

Thanks to Louisville's upset home loss to Syracuse on Saturday and Indiana's home defeat to Wisconsin, Duke has returned to the top spot in the polls Monday after a week at No. 3.

The Blue Devils' stay could be short lived as they face a big challenge at Miami (Fla.) on Wednesday night with the surprising Hurricanes (13-3, 4-0), the only remaining unbeaten team in ACC play. Miami slipped into the polls this week at No. 25.

UM's start has been made more impressive because the team has been without starting center Reggie Johnson due to a broken thumb suffered in December. The 6-foot-10, 295-pound Johnson is one of the most physically imposing players in the country. He was averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds when he got hurt. Two of Miami's three losses have come without Johnson. It's not likely he is back until mid-February.

Wednesday's game, which will have Live Betting at the book, is a rarity for Miami as the school hasn't hosted a No. 1 team since January 20, 1999, when the Hurricanes lost to Connecticut. Miami is 0-6 all-time against No. 1 teams.

The Hurricanes upset No. 5 Duke 78-74 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year in the only meeting. Johnson was a beast in that game with a career-high 27 points along with 12 rebounds. It was Miami's first-ever win at Cameron and only its second win over Duke since joining the ACC.

Should Duke (16-1, 3-1) win Wednesday, it could be set up to not lose again in the regular season and claim the ACC title. It faces only two teams currently ranked the rest of the way: NC State (which handed Duke its only loss) and Miami again, and both are in Durham. The Blue Devils do have to visit North Carolina as usual, but the Heels have been a disappointment thus far.

Winless Update

We are down to one team remaining in Division I without a victory. Last week the book looked at the two schools still winless, Grambling State and Maryland-Eastern Shore. Both figured to have their best shot at a victory on Saturday. Grambling, however, lost 57-46 at home to a Jackson State team that was 1-14 and winless in the SWAC. Maryland-Eastern Shore did take advantage of a weak visiting opponent that day, beating Delaware State 58-53. Grambling State's next game is Saturday at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-12, 5-1 SWAC).

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