NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan State Spartans vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Michigan State Spartans at Iowa Hawkeyes
Thursday, 1/10/12, 7:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan State -1.5
Current Betting Line:  Michigan State -1
Opening Total:  135
Current Total:  136.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Michigan State Spartans are 1-3 ATS as road favorites of three points or less since 2010

Michigan State is back on the road after capturing a convincing 84-61 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers as 11.5-point home favorites Saturday, while going OVER the total for a second-straight contest.  “Even though I’m excited about the win, we’re still not playing like we need to play,” commented Spartans head coach Tom Izzo.  The Spartans did connect on 60 percent of their shots in picking up a pair of victories in this series during the 2011-12 campaign.  Michigan State is 1-3 ATS as a road favorite of three points or less since 2010, with the UNDER going 4-0 in that situation.

The Spartans have two probable starters averaging in double figures, with point guard Keith Appling leading the way, scoring 14.3 points per game.  Freshman Gary Harris is second on the team in that category—leading all Big Ten Conference freshman in scoring.  The program holds a 66-53 advantage in this series, including a 24-9 mark during the Izzo era.

Iowa will be facing nationally-ranked teams in back-to-back games for the second straight season, as it looks to bounce back from a 95-67 blowout loss to the Michigan Wolverines as 13.5-point road underdogs, which snapped their 6-0 ATS run.  The Hawkeyes allowed the Wolverines to shoot 58.1 percent, while getting out-rebounded by a 41-26 margin.  “Anything short of our best, we’re not going to win,” stated Hawkeyes head coach Frank McCaffery.  The squad ranks eighth in the country in making 18.0 free throws, which could prove to be key when making your NCAA basketball picks Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes have a youthful roster, with underclassmen accounting for 58 percent of their scoring, but junior guard Roy Devyn Marble leads the way in averaging 15.5 points per game.  Iowa’s bench has also managed to contribute 20 or more points in 10 games this season, something to consider when looking over the college basketball odds page.  The program has won 14 of its last 16 home games, but is shooting just 28 percent from beyond the arc in front of its fans this season.

Sports bettors will likely play the total in this affair, with the UNDER going 7-1 in the last eight meetings in Iowa.

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