MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (16-3)
at WISCONSIN BADGERS (13-5)
Kohl Center – Madison, WI
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Wisconsin -6, Total: 123
Red-hot No. 13 Michigan State will travel to unranked Wisconsin as an underdog Tuesday night for some Big Ten action.
The question in any game against the Badgers is whether or not they will give up any points. Wisconsin is giving up 55.8 PPG (8th-fewest in the nation) and has not slowed down in conference play, limiting Big Ten opponents to 54.4 PPG. At Kohl Center, 11 visitors have just 49.6 PPG on 37.3% FG. The Badgers have been maddingly inconsistent all year though, such as upsetting then-No. 2 Indiana last week but then losing as a favorite to Iowa four days later. Michigan State, on the other hand, is 11-1 SU in its past 12 games, including five wins in a row after a narrow victory over Ohio State this weekend.
Can Wisconsin beat the No. 13 team in the nation comfortably on Tuesday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts are 7-5 ATS (58%) in the past two days and have a collective 52.0% ATS mark (251-232-8) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 58% ATS (57-42) for the season, while StatFox Dave is 11-8 ATS (58%) in the past six days and 54.4% ATS (93-78-3) on the year. Dave is 7-2-1 ATS (78%) since Nov. 24 when he mentions the word "hammer" in his analysis, including 5-2 ATS (71%) when he uses the term "Hammertime." StatFox Brian is 9-7 ATS (56%) since Jan. 12, while StatFox Scott is 2-0 ATS in the past two days.
The Michigan State offense is led by junior PG Keith Appling (13.8 PPG, 4.4 APG), the only Spartans player with more than 30 MPG. Although he has struggled as a shooter (42.6% FG, 30.9% threes) he is a savvy defender, tallying 1.7 SPG. He averaged 16.3 PPG (48.4% FG) in three meetings with Wisconsin last season. G Gary Harris (12.6 PPG) joins him in the backcourt and has proven to be an effective scorer in his freshman season. During the five-game win streak, he's averaging 13.4 PPG thanks to draining 12-of-22 threes (55%). Also on the wing, sophomore swingman Branden Dawson (10.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG) is the team’s final double-digit scorer. He mainly likes to score inside, hitting 55% of his shots on the season despite not having made a 3-pointer. During his team's five-game win streak, he's averaging 11.4 PPG and 7.2 RPG. The Spartans also have other able bodies down low. Senior C Derrick Nix (9.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG) makes up for his lack of height with a meaty, 270-pound frame while his frontcourt mate Adreian Payne (9.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG) has been on fire lately. Payne is averaging 14.5 PPG in his past four games, making 22-of-28 FG (79%) in that span.
All of Wisconsin’s three leading scorers recorded single-digit performances in their weekend loss to Iowa. Senior C/F Jared Berggren (12.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG) will look to reform his game after hitting just 6-of-17 FG and 0-of-6 threes in his past two games. In last year's series with the Spartans, he averaged just 8.3 PPG on 32% FG. Fellow F Ryan Evans (11.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG) scored just six points on 2-of-7 FG against Iowa before fouling out. He needs to stay closer to the basket, as Evans is a comical 1-for-18 from three-point range this year. But he did play very well in the past two meetings with MSU last season, scoring 17.5 PPG (45% FG) with 6.0 RPG. Junior G Ben Brust (10.7 PPG) has been the coldest of them all, averaging just 6.8 PPG over his past four contests, never eclipsing double-digits in the process. He is usually a good shooter (2.0 threes per game, 39% 3-pt FG) but has made just 7-of-24 threes (29%) in Big Ten play. If these guys can't regain their touch, freshman F Sam Dekker (9.6 PPG) will have to continue to step up. He's scored in double figures in each of his past three contests with 12.0 PPG on 56% FG (14-of-25).