Final Four Betting Picks: #7 Michigan State Spartans vs #1 Duke Blue Devils

2015 NCAA Tournament
National Semifinals

#7 Michigan State Spartans vs #1 Duke Blue Devils
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Saturday, April 4, 2015, 6:05 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Opening Line: Duke -4 1/2 (-122)
Current Line: Duke -5 (-115)
Opening Total: 140 1/2
Current Total: 138
Opening Money Line: Duke -215 / Michigan State +180
Current Money Line: Duke -240 / Michigan State +200

Duke faces Michigan State in the Final four Saturday in indianapolis.
Duke faces Michigan State in the Final Four Saturday in Indianapolis.

Three of the four #1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four in the men’s basketball tournament, Saturday in Indianapolis. The only exception is the #7 seed Michigan State Spartans who won the East region. The 27-11 Spartans will take on the #1 seed from the South Region the 33-4 Duke Blue Devils in the first semifinal. The winner will play either undefeated Kentucky or Wisconsin in the championship game Monday.

Duke leads the series 9-2 against Michigan State including 3-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils have won 4 straight games in the series but the last six games and 8 of the last 9 have been decided by 10 points or less. Duke beat Michigan State earlier this season 81-71 in November, ironically also in Indianapolis. The last Michigan State win against Duke happened in the 2005 Sweet 16.

Michigan State went 12-6 in the Big Ten and were part of a three way tie for third. The Spartans lost to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Michigan State was seeded #7 in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans beat #10 Georgia 70-63 in the second round and upset #2 Virginia 60-54 in the third round, both in Charlotte. The Spartans beat #3 seed Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 and #4 Louisville 76-70 in overtime in the regional final Sunday, both in Syracuse.  Michigan State is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time and 18th straight. The Spartans are making their 9th Final Four appearance including 7 under coach Tom Izzo, the last in 2010. Michigan State won national titles in 1979 and 2000. MSU went 11-8 against Tournament teams this season.

Duke finished second in the ACC at 15-3. The Blue Devils lost to Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals. Despite not winning their conference regular season or tournament title, Duke was given one of the four #1 seeds in the South Region. Duke beat #16 Robert Morris 85-56 in the second round and #8 San Diego State 68-49 in the third round, both in Charlotte. Duke beat #5 Utah 63-57 in the regional semifinal and #2 Gonzaga 66-52 in the regional final Sunday, both in Houston. The Blue Devils are making their 38th Tournament appearance and 16th trip to the Final Four. Duke has 4 national titles, the last in 2010, also the last time the Blue Devils made it to the Final Four. Duke went  14-3 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.

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Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have neutral site losses to Duke in Indianapolis, Kansas in a tournament in Orlando, and Wisconsin in Chicago. Michigan State has road losses at Notre Dame, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin, along with home losses to Texas Southern, Maryland, Illinois and Minnesota. The Spartans have home wins over Santa Clara, Oakland, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue, neutral site wins over Rider and Marquette in Orlando, Ohio State and Maryland in Chicago, along with road wins over Navy, Iowa, Rutgers, Northwestern, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Michigan State is 22-16 ATS and the total is 20-15-2 this season. The Spartans were 2 point favorites against Louisville and the total was 127.5.

Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski.  Duke has losses at North Carolina State and Notre Dame and at home against  Miami, plus a neutral site loss to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have won 16 of their last 17 games.  Duke has neutral site wins over Michigan State in Indianapolis, Temple and Stanford in Brooklyn,  Connecticut in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and NC State in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have home wins over Army, Toledo, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, along with road wins over Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Louisville, St. John’s, Virginia, Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Duke is 22-14-1 ATS and the total is 18-17 this season. The Blue Devils were 1.5 point favorites against Gonzaga and the total was 144.5.

Michigan State is outscoring teams 71-63 this season. The Spartans are shooting 46.7% from the field including 38.6% from 3 point range. Michigan State is #43 or better nationally in both categories. The Spartans are #336 in free throw shooting out of 353 teams at 63.2% from the line. Opponents are looking 39.3% from the field and 31.6% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #51 or better in both categories. MSU averages 37.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.2. The Spartans are #56 or better in both categories. Michigan State averages 16.7 assists, 11.2 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.5 assists, 10.8 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

MSU guard Travis Trice averages 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Denzel Valentine averages 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.  Brandon Dawson averages 11.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Bryn Forbes averages 8.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Matt Costello averages 7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Gavin Schilling averages 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Marvin Clark, Jr. and Lourawls Nairn, Jr. will also get minutes in the rotation. Javon Bess is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

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Duke is outscoring teams 80-64 this season. Duke is #5 in scoring nationally. The Blue Devils are shooting 50.2% from the field including 39% from 3 point range. Duke is #3 nationally in field goal percentage and #25 in 3 point shooting. The Blue Devils make 69.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 31.2% from 3 point range. Duke is #40 nationally in 3 point defense. The Blue Devils average 36.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.8 per game. Duke averages 15.8 assists, 8.7 turnovers, 7.4 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.8 assists, 10.3 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.

Duke forward Jahlil Okafor averages 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Okafor has been projected by many as a top five pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Guard Quinn Cook averages 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1 steal per game. Justise Winslow averages 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 12.3 turnovers per game. Tyus Jones averages 11.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Amile Jefferson averages 6.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Rasheed Sulaimon averages 7.5 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He was kicked off the team for violating team rules. Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Greyson Allen and Marshall Plumlee will also get minutes in the rotation.

Michigan State is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, 4-0 in NCAA Tournament games, against teams with winning records, overall and in neutral site games, 4-1 after a cover, 8-3 after a straight up win and 2-5 in Saturday games. The over is 5-1 in the series recently.

Duke is 6-0 ATS in non-conference games, 4-0 in NCAA Tournament games, against teams with winning records, overall, in neutral site games and against Big Ten teams, 7-1 after a straight up win, 6-1 after a cover, and 19-6-1 in Saturday games.

While Michigan State averages over 71 points a game, they probably don’t want to get into a track meet with Duke. Izzo has done a great coaching job with this team that struggled at points during the regular season while they gelled. They were probably under seeded as a #7 seed but the Spartans are still the underdog compared to the other 3 teams. It has been a great run for the Spartans but I think Duke wins a close game, certainly much closer than the November meeting between these two teams.

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