Sunday Hoops Action
March 3, 2013
By David Schwab
The Big Ten kicks-off the final week of college basketball's regular season with two big matchups on Sunday's slate. At the top of the list is No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Michigan, but to get you warmed up for that long standing rivalry, Purdue will head to Madison to face No. 17 Wisconsin. The Big East also gets in the act this Sunday with Villanova on the road against No. 23 Pittsburgh in a high noon start. The following is a handicapping guide for all three conference showdowns starting with an in-depth look at our game of the day.
Vegas Insider's Game of the Day
No. 9 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (4 p.m. CBS)
The Spartans come into this matchup with back-to-back losses both straight-up and against the spread to Indiana and Ohio State that put a major crimp in their chances to win the Big Ten regular season title. They are 22-6 SU overall and 11-4 in conference play. Michigan State is 5-4 ATS in its last nine games but under .500 on the year at 10-13-2 ATS. The total has gone OVER in three of its last five games.
Behind a 17-point night by Gary Harris, the Spartans rolled over Michigan 75-52 as 1 ½-point home underdogs the first time they met this season with the total staying UNDER the 127-point line. Both Harris and Keith Appling are averaging over 13 points a game and Michigan State as a whole is scoring 70 points a game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from three-point range.
The Wolverines need to quickly regroup for this contest after a stunning collapse against Penn State is this past Wednesday in an 84-78 loss as 13-point road favorites. It was the Nittany Lions first conference victory this season and Michigan's fifth loss against 10 wins in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are now 23-5 SU and 13-12-1 ATS after failing to cover in six of their last seven games. The total has gone OVER in five of their last seven games.
Trey Burke could be a big factor in this game after scoring a game-high 18 points the first time these two teams met, but also look for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III to play a significant role for the Wolverines as well. Michigan has the edge in scoring with 76 points-per-game and is shooting 49.5 percent from the floor. Defensively, it is allowing an average of 62.1 points a game verse Michigan State's 59.9-point average.
The home team in this series has covered the spread in the last four meetings and the total has stayed UNDER in seven of the last eight games between the two. Michigan State is just 1-5 ATS in its last six trips to Michigan.
Best of the Rest
Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 23 Pittsburgh Panthers (12 p.m. ESPN3)
ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi had Villanova listed as one of the last four-in when it comes to this year's NCAA Tournament but it probably needs a victory on Sunday to stay on this list after losing to Seton Hall 66-65 this past Monday as a four-point road favorite. Overall, the Wildcats are 18-11 SU and 16-9-1 ATS. They have failed to cover in three of their last four games and the total has stayed UNDER in six of their last nine outings.
Pittsburgh is 10-6 SU in the Big East this season including a 58-43 rout over Villanova as a 4 ½-point road favorite on Jan.16. It is just 2-2 SU and ATS in its last four games after losing to Marquette and Notre Dame before knocking-off St. Johns and South Florida its last two time out. The Panthers are 11-11 ATS overall this season but just 4-7 ATS at home. The total has stayed UNDER in seven of their last eight games.
Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (1 p.m. ESPN)
Purdue has been relegated to playing the role of spoiler in this contest after losing seven of its last 10 games to fall to 13-15 SU on the year and 6-9 in Big Ten Play. It has failed to cover in six of its last eight games and is a costly 10-16-1 ATS overall. The Boilermakers have really struggled on the road this season with just three SU victories in 10 games and a 3-6-1 road record ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in four of their last six games.
The surging Badgers will win the Big Ten regular season title if they win their final three games and Indiana loses one more time as a result of a 64-59 victory over the Hoosiers as 10 ½-point road underdogs earlier in the year. They are now 11-4 SU in conference play and 22-6 overall with a 6-1 record in their last seven games. ATS, Wisconsin has covered in seven of its last nine games but is still below .500 on the year at 11-14. It has gone 15-2 SU at home this season and 8-7 ATS. The total has gone OVER in five of its last seven contests.