MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (18-2)
at IOWA HAWKEYES (16-4)
Carver-Hawkeye Arena Ė Iowa City, IA
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Iowa -6, Total: 149.5
No. 7 Michigan State looks to bounce back from Saturday's loss when it travels to Iowa City on Tuesday to take on No. 15 Iowa.
The Spartans (11-8 ATS overall, 5-3 ATS in Big Ten) lost a disappointing game to in-state rival Michigan on Saturday, but this is still a team with a lot of potential. Injuries have hurt the Spartans, as frontcourt starters C Adreian Payne (16.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG) and SF Branden Dawson (10.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG) are both out to due injuries. Payne is close to returning from his foot ailment, but Dawson is out for another month due to a hand injury suffered from banging his fist on a table watching film. Michigan State really missed the pair on the glass, as it got outrebounded 35-29 in the matchup against the Wolverines. Iowa has been the surprise of the Big Ten, as the Hawkeyes will be playing one of their biggest home games in many years with the conference wide open. Head coach Fran McCaffery has quietly been building a solid team at Iowa (12-6 ATS overall, 5-2 ATS in Big Ten), but the team has taken a big jump this season, posting a perfect 11-0 SU home record (6-3 ATS) where it has outscored opponents by an amazing 28.2 PPG. The Hawkeyes are also 17-3 ATS (85%) versus good defenses (42% FG or less) after 15+ games over the past two seasons. But the Spartans are undefeated in true road games this season at 5-0 (SU and ATS), winning these contests by an average of 15.4 PPG (75.2 to 59.8). They are also 24-11 ATS (69%) versus good rebounding teams (4+ RPG margin) in the past three seasons. Michigan State has completely dominated this series recently, going 11-1 SU (6-6 ATS) in the past 12 meetings, but both wins last season came by three points, prevailing 62-59 at Iowa and 59-56 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. However, since 2002, Iowa has the 7-4 SU advantage (6-5 ATS) at home.
Which team will pick up the crucial Big Ten victory on Tuesday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (175-117-8) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (143-83-3) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (37-21-2) in Best Bets for the season and 68% ATS (30-14-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 63% ATS (37-22-1) for the season and 74% ATS (20-7) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (34-24-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (28-17) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is also 59% ATS (35-24) for the season and 63% ATS (25-15) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 56% ATS (32-25-2) for the season, and 62% ATS (26-16) since Nov. 29.
Michigan State is a very unselfish team, ranking fourth in the country with 17.8 APG. This is a big reason why the Spartans rank 29th in the nation in scoring (79.7 PPG), 37th in shooting (47.7% FG) and 39th in threes (38.6%). They are also one of the better defensive teams in the country, allowing just 64.7 PPG (48th in nation) on 38.2% FG (14th in Div. I) with 8.0 SPG (35th in Div. I) and 5.3 BPG (40th in nation). Although the team commits 11.2 turnovers per game, it did an amazing job of taking care of the ball against Michigan on Saturday, finishing with only five turnovers and 18 assists. MSU is also strong on the glass with a +5.1 RPG margin and 39.0 total RPG (32nd in nation), but Iowa comes into this game ranked 3rd in the country in rebounding (44.0 RPG), so the Spartans are going to have to rebound as a unit, especially the guards. SG Gary Harris (18.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.8 APG) and PG Keith Appling (15.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.6 RPG) are one of the best backcourts in the country, but are going to need to take their games to the next level if this team is going to be able to remain among the top teams in the conference. On Saturday, Harris had 27 points (4-of-6 threes), five rebounds and three steals, while Appling made just 3-of-11 shots, but still finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists while adding two blocks and two steals on the defensive end. In last season's series with Iowa, Harris averaged 13.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.0 SPG, while Appling shot poorly (9-of-28 FG, 32%), but still finished the series with 12.5 PPG and 4.0 RPG. With the two main frontcourt scorers injures, MSU will look for PF Matt Costello (3.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG) to provide some points in the paint. Costello had nine points and eight boards in 28 minutes in Saturday's loss. Sophomore SG Denzel Valentine (7.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.9 APG) will also need to perform much better than he did on Saturday when he scored just two points (1-of-5 FG) in 30 minutes before fouling out. In last season's series with Iowa, he also played poorly with two points (1-for-5 FG), five assists and nine turnovers in a combined 36 minutes over the two meetings. The Spartans are going to be going into a big-time atmosphere, and must get off to a good start if they are going to be able to get the victory.
Not only are the Hawkeyes one of the best rebounding teams in the country (+10.0 RPG margin), they are also one of the best scoring teams (85.3 PPG, 5th in Div. I) and passing teams (16.9 APG, 10th in nation). Iowa knocks down 47.8% FG (36th in Div. I) and 37.7% threes, while holding opponents to a mere 37.6% FG (8th in nation) and 28.0% threes (10th in Div. I). This shooting advantage is even greater at home where Iowa scores 90.3 PPG on 50.2% FG (41.7% threes), and allows only 62.1 PPG on 35.1% FG (23.7% threes). All four of the Hawkeyes losses are to teams that are currently ranked in the AP Poll's Top 16 (No. 9 Villanova, No. 16 Iowa State, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 10 Michigan). Senior SG Roy Devyn Marble (16.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 SPG) has emerged as a star for the Hawkeyes, and has shown a knack for playing his best basketball in his team's biggest games. In seven Big Ten games, Marble has scored 17.4 PPG, but is in a shooting funk over the past three contests, making just 11-of-31 shots (36%). Marble also struggled in his one game versus the Spartans last year with just eight points (3-of-9 FG), four assists and four turnovers. While Marble is one of the top guards in the conference, McCaffery also has one of the top post players in the conference at his disposal in PF Aaron White (13.7 PPG on 63% FG, 6.5 RPG). White is a versatile big man that has the ability to make plays off the bounce, but also does a great job of finishing at the free-throw line (84%). White scored at least 12 points in his first six conference games this season, but was held to five points (2-of-6 FG) at Northwestern on Saturday. After a solid 11 points and six boards versus the Spartans at home last season, White was manhandled in the Big Ten Tournament loss to them last March, scoring only five points (2-of-5 FG) with zero rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Senior PF Melsahn Basabe (8.2 PPG on 59% FG, 6.7 RPG) has provided the Hawkeyes with another player capable of making plays in the post, allowing White a little more freedom. Basabe has played exceptionally well in the past five games, averaging 11.6 PPG on 21-of-27 FG (78%). The Hawkeyes must come into this game and play the same way they have all season. They canít afford to come out and be too excited and make mistakes, because the veteran Spartans team has played in many of these types of games and won't be rattled on the road where they have been perfect this season.