NCAA Basketball Picks: Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Michigan State Spartans

No. 14 Valparaiso Crusaders vs. No. 3 Michigan State Spartans
Thursday, 3/21/13, 12:15 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan State -11
Current Betting Line:  Michigan State -10.5
Opening Total:  126.5
Current Total:  126.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Michigan State Spartans are always dangerous in the NCAA Tournament under coach Tom Izzo
The Michigan State Spartans are always dangerous in the NCAA Tournament under coach Tom Izzo

Valparaiso has won its last six games, including a 62-54 victory over Wright State as nine-point favorites in the Horizon League tournament final, while going UNDER the total in four of its last five contests.  The Crusaders will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2004, which can’t be ignored when making your college basketball picks against the spread.  The program owns a 2-7 mark in the Big Dance, but it will be making its shortest trip ever for this event in playing at The Palace of Auburn Hills.  Valparaiso is 17-13 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus seasons.

The Crusaders needed a pair of comeback victories to capture the tournament crown last week, as they do possess one of the more experienced rosters in the country.  Valparaiso ranks sixth nationally in shooting 48.9 percent from the field, but it failed to score at least one point per possession in its win over Wright State for the first time in 18 games.  The program hasn’t played a neutral-site game this season, but it did win a Division-I school record 10 true road games.

Michigan State enters the 2013 NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, as it makes its 16th consecutive trip to the event.  The Spartans have won four of five all-time meetings with the Crusaders, including a 90-60 win at the Breslin Center on Nov. 22, 2009.  The program is 10-2 all-time when playing at this venue, including a 2-0 mark in the tournament.  In its 26 appearances in this event, Michigan State is 20-6 in its first game, including wins in 11 of 15 tries under coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans have a 12-4 record in the Round of 32 games since 1985, including wins in 10 of their last 11 tries.  Michigan State is a remarkable 17-3 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend, with all three losses coming against No. 1 seeds.  Izzo has compiled a dominating 78-36 record in the month of March, including a 25-9 mark the last four-plus seasons.

Sports bettors will likely back the Crusaders due to their 18-12 ATS mark this season, while the Spartans are 6-8 ATS in all tournament games the last two-plus seasons.

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