MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (22-5)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (18-6)
Value City Arena - Columbus, OH
Tip-off: Sunday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Line: Ohio State -3
No. 18 Ohio State looks for payback at home when No. 4 Michigan State pays a visit on Sunday afternoon.
When these two teams met on Jan. 19 in East Lansing, the Spartans pulled out a 59-56 victory behind a balanced attack. That win gave MSU its third win in four tries (SU and ATS) in this series, a run that started with a 58-48 win in Columbus last season. The Spartans are coming off a tough home loss to Indiana on Tuesday, but they are 4-0 after a loss this season and 9-2 SU after an ATS defeat. Ohio State ended a three-game ATS losing skid with a 71-45 pounding of Minnesota on Wednesday, when it held the Gophers to 29% FG and 13% threes.
Which Big Ten powerhouse will prevail on Sunday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Through Thursday, StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (19-14) on college hoops Best Bets since Feb. 8, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (85-71-3) for Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 52% ATS (139-130-5) for the season, and StatFox Brian has been 50% ATS or better in nine of the past 12 days, posting a 5-3 ATS mark (63%) over the past three days.
Michigan State doesn't have great offensive firepower, averaging just 70.0 PPG, but it does have a strong FG Pct. (46.8%) and also rebounds very well with a +6.9 RPG margin. Defensively, the Spartans are outstanding, allowing 59.6 PPG on 39.1% FG.Junior SG Keith Appling (13.8 PPG, 3.9 APG) leads the team in scoring, but shoots just 41% FG and 32% threes. Appling had 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in last month's win over OSU. C Adreian Payne (9.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG) also had a huge game against the Buckeyes with 14 points (5-of-6 FG) and five rebounds. He shoots an exceptional 59% FG including 10-of-18 threes. Sophomore swingman Branden Dawson (10.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG) also shoots a high percentage (56% FG), but makes just 54% of his foul shots. Dawson had nearly a double-double against Ohio State last month with nine points and 10 rebounds. Freshman SG Gary Harris (13.2 PPG) is the team's most consistent three-point shooter at 43%, while making 47% FG and 75% free throws.
Ohio State's offense is solid, averaging 70.7 PPG on 45.4% from the field and 36.5% from three-point range. The Buckeyes also help themselves by committing just 11.0 TOPG. But where OSU really shines is on the defensive end, allowing just 59.0 PPG on 39.3% FG. PF Deshaun Thomas leads the Big Ten with 20.1 PPG thanks to a 45.3% FG clip (38% threes) and 84% from the free-throw line. Thomas lit up the Spartans for 28 points (10-of-20 FG, 6-of-11 threes) and seven rebounds last month. Junior SG Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (9.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG) shoots an identical 45.3% FG, and is slightly better from long range at 39% threes. Smith was awful against MSU earlier this year, making just 2-of-7 shots for six points in 30 minutes. PG Aaron Craft (9.2 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG) didn't shoot well against the Spartans last month either (2-for-8 FG, 1-for-5 threes) but he did have six assists and five steals. For the season, he's shot just 39% FG (31% threes), but he makes 81% of his foul shots and is a tenacious on-ball defender. Backup PG Shannon Scott (5.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.7 SPG) has been outstanding in taking care of the basketball, as his 3.13 Ast/TO ratio shows.