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College basketball expert Mike Spector analyzes this Big Ten rematch between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Michigan Wolverines.
ANALYSIS

Minnesota vs. Michigan State Prediction: Can Minnesota Cover the Big Number?

The Big Ten Conference started league play the earliest among the Power Five conferences. Because of that, we are already being treated to rematches of games played earlier in the season. One such rematch takes place tonight between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Michigan State Spartans. In early December, the Spartans walked out of “The Barn” with an eight-point victory. Will tonight’s result be any different?

Here are our picks and predictions for the Big Ten matchup between Michigan State and Minnesota.

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Minnesota vs. Michigan State Line Movement

Minnesota vs. Michigan State Prediction

Minnesota (10-3, 1-3) has lost back-to-back games to Illinois and at Indiana by a combined 36 points. A big reason for their lack of success is woeful 3-point shooting, as they went a combined 8-for-40 (20%) from long range in those two losses. Ben Johnson’s bunch wants to muck up and make every game a grind. The problem is that when they fall behind early, it is tough to play that methodical pace while playing catch up. They trailed by double digits at the half in each of their last two losses and need a quicker start tonight to keep pace with the Spartans.

Michigan State (13-2, 4-0) has had a week off since their last game, as their game against Michigan was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Wolverines program. The Spartans have won eight straight games since a neutral-court loss to Baylor, but they have not been as dominant as one would think in those contests. Michigan State beat Toledo, Oakland, and High Point during their current winning streak, all by 13 or fewer points.

In the first game between these teams, Michigan State shot 47.6% from 3-point range, as four different Spartans connected on at least two 3-pointers. Their excellent shooting, in large part, was due to Minnesota’s frontcourt’s inability to play Michigan State’s Marcus Bingham and their other bigs straight up in the post. Thus, they could rotate the ball well around the perimeter and find open shooters when double-teamed. Look for Ben Johnson’s bunch to commit to playing more one-on-one in post defense, daring the Spartans’ bigs to beat them this time around.

A huge bright spot for Minnesota in the first game against Michigan State was that they committed just three turnovers to the Spartans’ 13. Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard combined for six turnovers against the menacing defense of Minnesota’s Payton Willis and Eylijah Stephens. Thus, there is a path to success for the Golden Gophers to disrupt Michigan State’s rhythm in the half-court. However, Willis and Stephens need to stay out of foul trouble better, as they each committed four fouls each which took away some of their aggressiveness down the stretch in the first matchup.

Minnesota is 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games but will not be heavily backed tonight given that they could not cover as +7 point home underdogs in the first meeting with the Spartans. However, we love the contrarian nature of backing the underdogs and believe they will benefit from being familiar with the superior Spartans’ personnel and game plan.

 Minnesota vs. Michigan State Pick

  • PICK: Minnesota +13 (-110)
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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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