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College basketball handicapper Chris Smith breaks down Monday's game between Michigan State and Minnesota
ANALYSIS

Michigan State vs Minnesota Predictions

This matchup features a classic “sell high, buy low” scenario as the Spartans travel to Minnesota off consecutive Big Ten losses. Meanwhile,  the Golden Gophers are coming off a thrilling Christmas Day upset over Iowa behind the heroics of Marcus Carr. Richard Pitino has a talented roster that looks poised to enter the top 25 rankings this week regardless of tonight’s outcome.

Michigan State though, has a defensive stopper in Aaron Henry who will likely shadow Carr in this game. While the Gophers have posted 90+ points in three of their previous four contests, Minnesota has historically struggled against the Spartans, dropping five straight in the series. While Tom Izzo’s guys have not been playing the type of signature defense we’ve grown accustomed to in East Lansing, this feels like a spot where the Spartans step up and grab their first Big Ten victory over a team that’s due for some regression offensively. I also think Michigan State’s offense will show some life against a Minnesota squad that’s given up 80 points or more to opposing teams in four of their last five games.

I’m expecting a strong performance from Rocket Watts who hasn’t played particularly well since the Duke game at the start of December. Joey Hauser should also be able to exploit this weak Gophers defense coming off his huge performance against Wisconsin in a losing effort on Christmas. I’ll take the more desperate team in this spot to get their first conference win and while I would have liked to have gotten the Spartans at -1 when it first opened, I think there’s still value in purchasing the hook and laying two points at a bit steeper price. 

BET: Michigan State -2 @ -120

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