College Basketball Handicapping Picks: #7 Michigan State Spartans vs Georgetown Hoyas

#7 Michigan State Spartans vs Georgetown Hoyas
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York

Saturday, February 1, 2014, 3:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening Line: Michigan State -7 1/2
Current Line: Michigan State -7
Opening Total: 136
Current Total: 134
Opening Money Line: MSU -310 / Georgetown +255
Current Money Line: MSU -300 / Georgetown +250 

Michigan State is a 7 point favorite against Georgetown in New York Saturday.
Michigan State is a 7 point favorite against Georgetown in New York Saturday.

Two of college basketball’s perennial powerhouses meet Saturday in a rare February non-conference clash as the 19-2 Michigan State Spartans take on the 11-9 Georgetown Hoyas. This is only the second meeting between the schools with Michigan State winning the first match-up in the second round of the 1986 NCAA tournament.

Michigan State is second in the Big Ten at 8-1  behind 8-0 Michigan. Georgetown is 3-6 in the Big East and is in seventh place in the conference. A current five game losing streak has put the Hoyas in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have losses at home to North Carolina and Michigan. The Michigan loss last Saturday snapped an 11 game winning streak for Michigan State. The Spartans rebounded from that loss with a 71-69 overtime win at Iowa Tuesday night. Michigan State also has key wins over Kentucky in Chicago, Columbia, Portland, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in a tournament in Brooklyn, Oakland in Auburn Hills, at Texas, at Penn State, Indiana twice, Ohio State, Minnesota, at Northwestern, and at Illinois. Michigan State is 11-7-2 ATS and the total is 10-10 this season.

Michigan State is outscoring teams 79-65 this season. The Spartans are #31 in scoring and #50 in points allowed nationally. MSU is shooting 47.5% from the field and 38.4% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #43 nationally in both categories. Michigan State makes 69.3% of their free throws. Spartan opponents are shooting 38.1% from the field and 32.3% from 3 point range. Michigan State is #13 in opponents’ field goal percentage nationally. The Spartans average 39.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.6 per game. MSU is #31 in rebounding nationally. The Spartans average 17.5 assists, 11.2 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.6 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.

Guard Gary Harris averages 18.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Center Adreian Payne averages 16.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. He is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Guard Keith Appling averages 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. He is probable with a wrist injury. Guard Branden Dawson averages 10.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He is out until late February with a broken hand. Guard Denzel Valentine averages 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1 steal per game. Gaurd Travis Trice averages 7 points, 1.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Kenny Kaminski and Matt Costello will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Costello leads the team in blocks at 1.6 per game.

Georget0wn is coached by John Thompson III. The Hoyas have losses to Oregon in South Korea, to Northeastern in a tournament in Puerto Rico, at Kansas, at Providence, at Xavier, Seton Hall, Marquette, at Creighton and Monday at home against Villanova 65-60. The Hoyas have key wins over Wright State at home, Kansas State and VCU in Puerto Rico, Depaul and St. John’s both at home, and at Butler. Georgetown is 8-11 ATS and the total is 11-8 this season.

Georgetown is outscoring teams 72-67 this season. The Hoyas are shooting 46.5% from the field including 34.1% from 3 point range. Georetown makes 68.6% of their free throws. Hoya opponents are shooting 39.6% from the field and 30.5% from 3 point range. Georgetown is #37 in opponents’ field goal percentage and #47 in three point defense. The Hoyas average 34.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.3 per game. Georgetown averages 14.1 assists, 12.8 turnovers, 6.1 steals, and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.5 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.

Hoya guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera averages 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Markel Starks averages 16.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1 steal per game. Center Joshua Smith is out for the season because of academics. He averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and i steal per game. Forward Jabril Trawick is out indefinitely with a broken jaw. He averages 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Forward Mikael Hopkins averages 6.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. Forward Nate Lubick averages 5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Aaron Bowen, Reggie Cameron, and Moses Ayegba will also get minutes in the rotation.

Michigan State is 5-1 ATS in Saturday games, 6-2 after a cover, 9-3 overall, 3-1-2 in neutral site games, 8-3 after a straight up win, 5-2-1 in non-conference games, and 0-4 against Big East teams.

Georgetown is 11-5 ATS after a straight up loss, 1-4 overall and against teams with winning records, and 0-4 after a cover.

When healthy, Michigan State is a national championship contender. However, with Payne and Dawson both out for extended periods the Spartans are vulnerable. ¬†Georgetown has issues of their own with Smith and Trawick both out. The reeling Hoyas badly need a win to stop the bleeding but I don’t think it will happen here. Michigan State grinds out a tough win in a neutral site that will serve them well in March.

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