Big Ten Battle at the Barn: Michigan St Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers

#6 Michigan St St Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Williams Arena – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Net
Opening Line: Michigan St -6
Current Line: Michigan St -5 1/2
Opening Total: 128
Current Total: 127 1/2
Opening Money Line: MSU -240 / Minnesota +200
Current Money Line: MSU -240 / Minnesota +200

Michigan St is a 5 1/2 point favorite on the road at Minnesota Wednesday night. The Spartans need to win to stay in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

The 22-5 Michigan St Spartans are 22-5 and in first place in the Big Ten with an 11-3 record. The Spartans can expand their lead to full game over Ohio St and Michigan with a win Wednesday at Minnesota. Michigan St has won 5 straight games including 76-62 at Purdue Sunday.

Minnesota is 17-10 overall and 5-9 in conference. The Golden Gophers have lost 3 in a row and 4 of their last 5 games including 64-53 at Northwestern Saturday. The losing streak has put the Gophers in a precarious position to make the NCAA tournament.

Michigan St is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans started off the season 0-2 with losses to North Carolina and Duke. The Spartans have gone 22-3 since then though, including a 15 game winning streak after the bad start. MSU has additional losses at Northwestern, Michigan, and Illinois. The Spartans have wins over Milwaukee, Eastern Michigan, Florida St, Gonzaga, Bowling Green, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin twice, Iowa, Purdue twice, Minnesota, Michigan, Penn St, and Ohio St.  Michigan St leads the series against Minnesota 62-57, but the Gophers are 35-22 in Minneapolis. The Spartans have won 3 straight against the Gophers including 68-52 in East Lansing last month.

Minnesota is coached by Tubby Smith. The Golden Gophers were 12-1 in non-conference play, but have struggled in conference play with a 5-9 record. Minnesota has losses to Dayton, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa twice, Purdue, Michigan St, Wisconsin, and Ohio St. The Gophers have wins over Bucknell, South Dakota St, DePaul, Indiana St, Virginia Tech, USC, Central Michigan, Indiana, Penn St, Northwestern, Illinois, and Nebraska.

Michigan St is outscoring opponents 73-59 this season. MSU is #13 nationally in opponent’s scoring. The Spartans are shooting 47.5% from the field including 35.3% from 3 point range. MSU makes 69.8% of their free throws. The Spartans average 39.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +10.1. Michigan St is #9 in the country in rebounding. The Spartans average 15.7 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 7.5 steals, and 4.4 blocks a game. MSU opponents are shooting 37.1% from the field including 28.4% from 3 point range. They are in the top 10 nationally in both categories.  The Spartans force 13.4 turnovers a game.

MSU forward Draymond Green averages 15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.9 blocks a game. He leads the Spartans in scoring rebounds, and steals.  Green is shooting 38.6% on three pointers.  Keith Appling averages 12 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game. Brandon Dawson averages 8.9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block a game to lead the team. Brandon Wood averages 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. He is shooting 35.6% from 3 point range. Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Derrick Nix all contribute significantly as well. Trice is questionable with an ankle injury.

Minnesota is outscoring opponents 68-64 this season. The Golden Gophers are shooting 47.1% from the field, including 35.2% from 3 point range. Minnesota makes 68.6% of their free throws. The Gophers average 34.5 rebounds a game, and have a rebounding margin of +3.2. Minnesota averages 15.7 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 5.1 blocks and 7.6 steals a game. Minnesota opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field including 34.3% from 3 point range. Minnesota is forcing  13.5 turnovers a game.

Forward Trevor Mbakwe was the leading scorer and rebounder for Minnesota but he is gone for the season with a leg injury. Rodney Williams averages 11 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks a game. He leads the team in scoring, steals, rebounds, and blocks. Julian Welch is averaging 10.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game. He shoots 44.3% from 3 point range. Austin Hollins averages 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal a game. Ralph  Sampson III averages 7.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks a game.  Forward Maurice Walker is questionable with a knee injury, but hasn’t played yet this season.

Minnesota is 11-12-1 ATS and the total is 12-11-1 this season. Michigan St is 17-7 ATS and the total is 12-11-1 this season. Michigan St is 9-1 ATS in the last 10 against Minnesota, and 4-0 in Minneapolis. The under is 16-5 in the last 21 in this series, and 5-1 in Minneapolis. The Spartans are 6-0 ATS in Wednesday games, 4-0 as a favorite, after a straight up win, and after a cover, 5-0 in Big Ten games, 16-5 against teams with winning records, and overall, 7-3 in road games, and in road games against teams with winning home records, 3-7 as a road favorite, 7-17-1 as a favorite of 6.5 points or less, including 1-7 on the road.

Michigan St is not only trying to win the Big Ten Conference title out right, but they could be in line for a #1 seed in next month’s NCAA tournament. Minnesota is in a tailspin but they are still a dangerous team. The Spartans can’t afford to let their guard down and overlook this team. I like MSU to win on the road.

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