Big Ten Rivals Clash with First Place on the Line: Michigan St Spartans at Ohio St Buckeyes

#12 Michigan St Spartans at #3 Ohio St Buckeyes
Value City Arena – Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, February 11, 2012, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Ohio St -9
Current Line: Ohio St -9
Opening Total: 128
Current Total: 129
Opening Money Line: OSU -400 / MSU +330
Current Money Line: OSU -450 / MSU +370

Ohio St and Michigan St meet in a battle for first place in the Big Ten Saturday in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 9 point favorites at home.

The 19-5 Michigan St Spartans are 8-3 in the Big Ten as they take on the 9-2 Ohio St Buckeyes in Columbus. Both teams are ranked in the top 12 in both polls, and the winner will be in first place with only a handful of games left in the regular season. The Spartans have won 4 of their last 5 games including 77-57 against Penn St at home Wednesday night. The Buckeyes have won 6 straight games, including escaping with an 87-84 win at home against Purdue Tuesday. Illinois gave each of these teams their last loss. Michigan St leads the series 63-53 against Ohio St, but the Buckeyes are 35-22 in Columbus. Ohio St has won 3 straight times in the series. The two teams will close out the regular season against each other in East Lansing in early March.

Michigan St is coached Tom Izzo. The Spartans have additional losses to North Carolina, Duke, Northwestern, and Michigan. Michigan St has wins over Milwaukee, Eastern Michigan, Florida St, Gonzaga, Bowling Green, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Ohio St is coached by Thad Matta. The Buckeyes have losses to Kansas and Indiana, in addition to the Illinois loss. Ohio St has wins over Wright St, Florida, Valparaiso, Duke, South Carolina, Miami-OH, Northwestern, Nebraska twice, Iowa, Indiana, Penn St, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Michigan St is outscoring opponents 74-59 this season. The Spartans are shooting 47.5% from the field including 35.9% from 3 point range. MSU makes 69.6% of their free throws. The Spartans average 40.1 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +10.8. Michigan St is #9 in the country in rebounding. The Spartans average 16.2 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 7.9 steals, and 4.5 blocks a game. MSU opponents are shooting 37.9% from the field including 29.4% from 3 point range. The Spartans force 13.8 turnovers a game.

MSU forward Draymond Green averages 15.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1 block a game. He leads the Spartans in all categories except assists. Green is shooting 36.8% on three pointers.  Keith Appling averages 11.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game.  Brandon Wood averages 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Derrick Nix all contribute significantly as well.

Ohio St is outscoring opponents 77-55 this season. Ohio St is 7th in points allowed in the country. The Buckeyes are shooting 49.1% from the field including 34.1% from 3 point range. OSU is #10 in field goal percentage. Ohio St makes 69.6% of their free throws. The Buckeyes average 36.8 rebounds a game, and has a rebounding margin of +7.5. Ohio St averages 15.8 assists, 11.5 turnovers, 7.7 steals, and 2.9 blocks a game. Buckeye opponents are shooting 39.7% from the field, including 31.9% from 3 point range. Ohio St is forcing 17 turnovers a game, and opponents only average 9 assists a game.

Ohio St forward Jared Sullinger averages 17.4 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game. He leads the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding and blocks, but he only averages 0.8 a game. Guard William Buford averages 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists a game. He is shooting 37.9% from 3 point range. Forward Deshaun Thomas averages 14.6 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Thomas makes 33.8% of his 3 point shots. Point guard Aaron Craft averages 8.1 points, 3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.2 steals a game. He leads the team in  steals and assists.

Ohio St is 12-7 ATS and the total is 9-8-2 this season. Michigan St is 14-7 ATS and the total is 10-10-1 this season. The road team is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 games in this series, and the underdog is 4-1 in the last 5. The Spartans are 4-1 ATS  as a road underdog, overall, and in Big Ten games, 6-2 after a straight up win, 13-5 against teams with winning records, 5-2 after a cover, and 3-8-1 in Saturday games. The Buckeyes are 6-1 as a home favorite, 5-1 as a favorite, overall, in Big ten games, and 5-1 at home against teams with losing road records, 4-1 after failing to cover, after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records, and 5-2 as a favorite of between 7-12.5 points.

Recent history in this series says the road team usually covers. I see that trend continuing because 9 points seems like a lot for two talented teams like this. Ohio St will win, but the Spartans will keep it close.

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