MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (17-5)
at MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (18-4)
Jack Breslin Student Events Center – East Lansing, MI
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan State -4, Total: 131
No. 12 Michigan State has revenge on its mind when No. 18 Minnesota pays a visit to East Lansing, MI on Wednesday night.
When these teams met on New Year's Eve in Minneapolis, the Gophers pulled away in the second half with a game-ending 18-2 run and won 76-63. But since that result, the Spartans are 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS), with the lone defeat coming at No. 1 Indiana. Minnesota has lost four times SU (5-3 ATS) since that meeting, including three straight road defeats. And even with the Dec. 31 loss, Michigan State is 17-3 SU (13-7 ATS) in the past 20 meetings between these schools, and hasn't dropped a home contest to the Gophers since Jan. 4 1997, beating them 13 straight times SU.
Will Michigan State avenge its Dec. 31 loss to Minnesota? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts were nearly perfect on Tuesday, going a collective 5-1 ATS (83%). StatFox Dave went 2-0 ATS, predicting North Carolina would hammer Wake Forest by 27 points in a game the Heels won by 25. StatFox Brian also went 2-0 ATS, predicting Purdue (-2.5) would beat Penn State by at least 8 points (Boilers won by 9) and Villanova (-3) would win by double-digits in its 23-point rout at DePaul. StatFox Gary, who correctly predicted 11-point 'dog Arkansas would cover versus Florida, is 10-4 ATS (71%) in his past seven days of Best Bets, boosting his impressive season record to 57% ATS (73-56-1). Dave has gone 17-11 ATS (61%) in the past nine days to improve to 54% ATS (116-101-3) for the season.
Minnesota is a well-rounded team with great depth, averaging a solid 73.2 PPG on 46.3% FG with 16.1 APG (18th in nation). The Gophers are also fierce underneath the boards with a +9.1 RPG margin (7th in D-I) and 6.2 blocks per game (9th in nation). Senior PF Trevor Mbakwe (9.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG) provides most of the muscle, but he needs to be more assertive on the offensive end, scoring just 6.7 PPG on 7-of-16 FG over the past three games combined. He notched a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) in the Dec. 31 win over MSU, but also committed five turnovers. Sophomore PG Andre Hollins (14.2 PPG, 3.7 APG) scored a game-high 22 points (7-of-10 FG) and six assists in the New Year's Eve victory and has pumped in 16.3 PPG in the past three games. In Sunday's 62-59 win over Iowa, Hollins had eight assists and just one turnover. He has also been potent on the road this season with 16.5 PPG, compared to 11.7 PPG at home. Senior SF Rodney Williams (12.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG) is starting to heat up with 16.5 PPG on 54% FG in his past two games. He also tallied 15 points, six rebounds and three steals in the home win over MSU. Junior SG Austin Hollins (11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG) is also catching fire with 15.0 PPG during this two-game win streak, but has scored a total of eight points on 2-of-15 FG in his past two road games. For the season, Hollins averages 8.0 PPG (30% FG) on the road, a far cry from his home scoring average of 13.5 PPG.
Michigan State is similar to Minnesota, as the team scores 69.7 PPG on 46.8% FG, but allows just 59.4 PPG on 38.7% FG. And the Spartans also know how to crash the boards with a +7.4 RPG margin this season. Junior PG Keith Appling (14.0 PPG, 4.2 APG) is a solid floor general and had a magnificent game in Thursday's 80-75 home win over Illinois with 24 points (7-of-12 FG), eight rebounds and seven assists. Appling also led the Spartans with 15 points, five assists and a whopping six steals in the Dec. 31 loss at Minnesota. Swingman Branden Dawson (10.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG) is starting to get hot with 12+ points and 8+ rebounds in three straight games, averaging 14.0 PPG (59% FG) and 10.0 RPG during this span. Freshman SG Gary Harris (12.8 PPG) suffered back spasms in the last game, but does expect to play on Wednesday. Harris has 17.5 PPG (8-of-15 threes) and 2.5 SPG in the past two games, and is making 41.1% of his three-point attempts this season. Harris scored 12 points in the Dec. 31 loss at Minnesota, but missed four of his five attempts from downtown, and had just one assist in 34 minutes of action. Senior C Derrick Nix (9.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG) also struggled shooting the basketball in Minneapolis with an anemic 5-for-15 FG clip in the loss. The Spartans will likely not have the services of backup G Travis Trice (5.5 PPG) who is still suffering concussion symptoms from an injury suffered in the Illinois game. Although he's a quality shooter (41% 3-pt FG), Trice is just 5-of-22 from the floor (23%) in his past four games. Freshman Denzel Valentine (5.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG) likely earned himself some extra playing time in this contest after his career-high 14 points on 4-of-4 FG and 6-of-8 FT in just 19 minutes in the team's last game.