NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Tuesday, 12/31/13, 5:00 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan State -5.5
Current Betting Line:  Michigan State -6
Opening Total:  149
Current Total:  146.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Michigan State Spartans are 11-7 SU in Big Ten Conference openers under head coach Tom Izzo
The Michigan State Spartans are 11-7 SU in Big Ten Conference openers under head coach Tom Izzo

Michigan State has won four games in a row, including a 101-48 victory over New Orleans as 32-point home favorites last Saturday, while going UNDER the betting total for the fourth time in five contests.  Over the last four games, the Spartans have limited teams to 34.3 percent shooting, including 26.3 percent from beyond the arc, which is important to consider when making your NCAA basketball picks.  Offensively, the team has our probable starters averaging in double figures, with forward Adreian Payne leading the way at 18.0 points a contest.  Michigan State is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS as road favorites of 3.5 to 6 points the last two-plus seasons.

The Spartans will open up Big Ten Conference play on the road for the eighth time in 11 seasons, which can’t be ignored when looking over the NCAA basketball odds.  Michigan State has compiled a 11-7 record in conference openers under Tom Izzo, including a 4-7 mark on the road.  The program has used six different starting lineups in the last seven games.  Even with all the roster changes, the squad leads the Big Ten in shooting 49.1 percent from the floor.

Penn State has won three of its last four games, including a 92-82 victory over Mount Saint Mary’s on Dec. 22, while going OVER the betting total for the sixth time in seven contests.  The Nittany Lions have four players scoring in double figures after 13 games with the team average 81.2 points per game—more than 17 points ahead of last year’s pace.  The team is sitting just behind Tuesday afternoon’s opponent in shooting 47.7 percent from the field, which is up eight percent from a year ago.  Penn State is 3-1 SU and 1-2-1 ATS when playing with seven or more days rest the last two-plus seasons.

The Nittany Lions are led by the play of guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, who make up the highest scoring backcourt duo in the nation.  Penn State is 7-14 SU in its previous 21 Big Ten openers, but has won four of its last seven in that situation.  The program is also 4-3 when playing on the final day of the calendar year.

Sports bettors will likely back the Nittany Lions due to their 4-1-1 ATS mark in their last six home games against the Spartans.

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