Michigan at Michigan State
January 24, 2014
By Brian Edwards
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It has been a good season for college hoops in the state of Michigan. The Spartans and Wolverines remain unbeaten in Big Ten play, but that'll change Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Michigan State (18-1 straight up, 10-6-2 against the spread) installed as a six-point favorite.
Tom Izzo's team has won 11 consecutive games since suffering its lone defeat at home to North Carolina on Dec. 4. The Spartans have covered the spread at an 8-2 clip in their last 10 games.
Michigan State survived a tough test at home vs. Indiana on Tuesday night. Izzo's bunch held off the Hoosiers, 71-66, but failed to take the cash as a 13.5-point home 'chalk.' Gary Harris led the way with 24 points and five steals, while Branden Dawson added 13 points and nine rebounds.
But MSU is going to be without Dawson in Saturday's showdown and beyond. During a film session on Thursday, Dawson grew agitated when ESPN analyst Dan Dakich was critiquing a defensive mistake he made. Dawson angrily slammed his hand against a table, resulting in a fracture that will keep him out for the next 4-5 weeks.
(Quick Personal Take: This hurts Michigan State and will be seen by some as foolish on Dawson's part. I get that but with that said, I can't blame the guy. Dakich is the Mark May of college hoops. His voice begs one to immediately search for the remote and the mute button. When Dakich speaks, it's the equivalent of fingernails screeching across a chalkboard. Dawson will be back in March and the Spartans will be fine. The Michigan State faithful should just blame Dakich, a relentless chafe who is an Indiana grad anyway.)
Dawson was averaging 10.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. His work on the boards has been especially important while senior Adreian Payne has been out. Dawson does more than score and rebound, as he gets after it defensively and has 22 steals and 17 blocked shots to his credit.
Payne has missed four consecutive games and is considered 'doubtful' vs. the Wolverines. Payne averages 16.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. However, with Mitch McGary out (back surgery) for Michigan, the Wolverines don't go inside nearly as often.
Michigan (14-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) has thrived without McGary thanks to increased production from Nik Stauskas (18.5 PPG) and Caris LeVert (11.6 PPG). John Beilein's squad has won eight straight games while posting a 6-1-1 spread record.
Michigan ended an 11-game losing streak in Madison by handing Wisconsin its first home loss of the season last Saturday. The Wolverines returned home Wednesday and dispatched of Iowa by a 75-67 count as three-point 'chalk.' Stauskas produced 26 points, five rebounds and five assists against the Hawkeyes, lending further credence to his candidacy for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Michigan has been an underdog four times, posting a 2-2 record both SU and ATS. Meanwhile, Michigan State has a 4-5 spread record at home. The Spartans are 4-1-1 ATS in six games as single-digit favorites.
These teams split a pair of regular-season meetings last year. When they met at Breslin Center, MSU cruised to a 75-52 victory as a 1.5-point home underdog. Harris scored a team-high 17 points for the Spartans.
The 'over' is 8-7-1 overall for Michigan, going 3-1 in its last four games.
Totals have been an overall wash (9-9) in Michigan State games, but the 'under' is 8-4 in its last 12 games. The Spartans have seen the 'under' go 5-4 in their nine home games with a total.
The 'under' is 8-1 in the last nine head-to-head meetings between these bitter rivals.
ESPN will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Most books are listing Gonzaga as a 7.5-point home favorite Saturday night vs. BYU. This is a 10:00 p.m. Eastern tip on ESPN2. The Bulldogs got Gary Bell Jr. back in the lineup for Thursday's non-covering win over San Diego. Harris logged 22 minutes of playing time and scored six points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. Harris had missed six games with a broken hand. The Cougars saw their five-game winning streak snapped in Thursday's 114-110 loss at Portland. BYU has been an underdog four times, posting a 2-2 spread record with one outright win at Stanford.
-- Most spots have installed Kansas as a 15-point favorite for Saturday night's tilt at TCU. This venue was a House of Horrors for the Jayhawks last season when they got beat 62-55 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Bill Self's team lost outright to a mediocre TCU team as a 17-point road favorite and the coach called the performance the worst in the history of KU's basketball program. The Horned Frogs aren't very good this year, either. They are 9-9 SU and 6-7 ATS. TCU has seen the 'under' go 8-3 overall. The Frogs are 5-4 SU and 1-3 ATS at home. KU has won five in a row and is undefeated in Big 12 play. ESPNU will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
-- Gamblers can still get down on some action for an 11:00 p.m. Eastern tip on ESPNU. San Diego State is a three-point favorite at Utah State The Aggies didn't have Kyle Davis due to a knee injury in Tuesday's 62-42 loss at UNLV. Davis, who averages 9.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, is 'questionable' against the Aztecs.
-- Another televised late game will go down in Sin City where UNLV takes on Fresno State as a 10-point home favorite. CBS Sports Network will provide television coverage. The Rebels won a 75-62 decision at Fresno State as four-point road favorites on New Year's Day. -- Minnesota’s leading scorer Andre Hollins (16.2 PPG) suffered a sprained ankle in the opening minutes of this week’s home win over Wisconsin. The results of an MRI were negative and there’s a chance Hollins will play Saturday at Nebraska. He is listed as ‘questionable.’ -- Alabama played without its second-leading scorer in last night’s 68-62 home loss to Florida. Retin Obasohan is dealing with a hip injury and is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. LSU. Obasohan is averaging 12.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
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