College Basketball Picks: #22 Wisconsin Badgers at #10 Michigan State Spartans

#22 Wisconsin Badgers at #10 Michigan State Spartans
Thursday, March 7, 2013, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN

Jack Breslin Events Center – East Lansing, Michigan
Opening Line: Michigan State -4
Current Line: Michigan State -4 1/2
Opening Total: 119 1/2
Current Total: 121 1/2
Opening Money Line: Michigan State -175 / Wisconsin +155
Current Money Line: Michigan State -215 / Wisconsin +185

Michigan St is a 4 1/2 point favorite at home against Wisconsin in akey Big Ten battle Thursday.
Michigan St is a 4 1/2 point favorite at home against Wisconsin in a key Big Ten battle Thursday.

With only one or two games left in the regular season, five teams have a shot at the Big Ten regular season title. Indiana leads the conference at 13-4 over 12-5 Michigan and Ohio St. Michigan St and Wisconsin are right behind at 11-5. The 22-7 Spartans host the 20-9 Badgers Thursday night, in what is basically an elimination game for the conference title. Also, only the top 4 teams get a first round bye in the conference tournament next week in Indianapolis.

Michigan St leads the series 73-60, including 45-14 in East Lansing. Michigan St has won 4 straight in the series including a 49-47 nail biter in Madison January 22. Wisconsin guard George Marshall drove to the hoop and was fouled with 3.5 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and intentionally tried to miss the second. However, he didn’t hit the rim. Michigan St took over possession and ran out the clock to seal the win.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Florida, Marquette, Iowa, Ohio St, and Minnesota  home losses to Virginia, Michigan St, and Purdue 69-56 Saturday and to Creighton in a tournament in Las Vegas. Wisconsin had won 3 straight games before the Purdue loss. The Badgers have key wins over Cornell, Arkansas in Las Vegas, California, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Penn St, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio St and Nebraska, along with road wins at Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois and Northwestern. Wisconsin is 11-15-1 ATS and the total is 12-12 this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 67-56 this season. The Badgers are #9 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 42.9% from the field and 34.2% from 3 points range. The Badgers are #330 out of 347 teams in free throw shooting at just 62.6% from the line. Wisconsin averages 37.2 rebounds per game, and give up 29.3 to opponents. Badger opponents are shooting 39.4% from the field and 30.6% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 14 assists, 6 steals, 4 blocks and 9 turnovers.

Forward/Center Jared Berggren averages 11.6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.Guard Ben Brust averages 11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1 steal per game. Forward Ryan Evans averages 10.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.  Forward Sam Dekker averages 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Forward Mike Bruesewitz averages 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. Traevon Jackson, George Marshall and Frank Kaminsky make up the rest of the rotation.

Michigan St is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have losses to Connecticut in Germany, at Miami-(FL), at Minnesota, Indiana twice, and at Ohio St and Michigan Sunday 58-57. The Spartans have lost 3 straight games, after a 5 game winning streak. This is the fourth game in a row for the Spartans against the other conference leaders. Michigan St has key wins over Kansas in Atlanta, Boise St, Oakland, at Bowling Green, Texas, Purdue twice , Nebraska twice, Ohio St, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan, and road wins in conference at Iowa, Penn St, and Wisconsin. The Spartans are 11-13-2 ATS and the total is 12-13 this season.

Michigan St is outscoring teams 69-60 this season. The Spartans are #31 in points allowed nationally. Michigan St is shooting 46.4% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #45 in field goal percentage. Michigan St makes 71.2% of their free throws. Michigan St averages 37.7 rebounds per game and gives up 27.7 per game. Michigan St is 45th or better in both categories. Spartan opponents are shooting 39.3% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. Michigan St averages 13 assists, 8 steals, 4 blocks, and 14 turnovers per game.

Guard Keith Appling averages 13.2 points, 3.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard Gary Harris averages 13.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Branden Dawson averages 10.1 points, 6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and  1.1 blocks per game. Forward Adreian Payne averages 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Forward Derrick Nix averages 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1 steal per game. Guard Travis Trice averages 5.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Forward Kenny Kaminksi is out for the season with a  shoulder injury.

Wisconsin is 6-1 ATS after a double digit home loss, 4-1-1 overall, and in Big Ten games, and 3-1-1 against teams with winning home records. The under si 5-2 in the last 7 in East Lansing in this series.

Michigan St is 3-1-1 after a cover, 9-4 against teams with losing road records, and 2-5 in Thursday games. The home team is 13-5 ATS in this series recently. The Spartans have covered the last 4 against the Badgers, and are 7-1 ATS in the last 8 at home against Wisconsin.

The loser of this game will be eliminated from the conference championship race, but they have both lost winnable games down the stretch. Michigan st had a chance to put a stranglehold on the Big Ten title with 4 straight games against the conference leaders. They have lost all three so far. Wisconsin had an inexcusable home loss to a mediocre Purdue team at home Saturday. But they still have a chance at a least a share of the conference title.  I like Michigan St at home in another close defensive struggle.

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