Michigan State vs. Iowa Prediction: Look for This Big Ten Battle to Be a Track Meet

College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the Big Ten battle between Michigan State and Iowa.
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Michigan State vs. Iowa Prediction: Look for This Big Ten Battle to Be a Track Meet

The Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Spartans have lost four of their last five games, while the Hawkeyes have won four of five. In addition, Iowa has won two straight games in this head-to-head rivalry. So will there be a reversal of fortune in each team's recent play, or will Iowa's surge and Michigan State's slide continue?

Here are our picks and predictions for the Big Ten battle between Michigan State and Iowa.

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Michigan State vs Iowa Prediction

Michigan State (18-8, 9-6) squandered a golden opportunity to "get right" against Illinois at home over the weekend, but instead, the Illini led wire-to-wire and shot 45% in a dominating victory. The fact that the Spartans were at one point down 16 points is surprising given that they took care of the ball better than they usually do (11 turnovers) and held Illinois to just 8-for-27 (29.6%) from 3-point range. In addition, the Spartans shot 46.8% from the floor but had just one starter (AJ Hoggard) score more than 11 points.

Iowa (18-8, 8-7) has been known as a much more dangerous team at home than on the road this season, but they are coming off their biggest road win of the season, a 75-62 victory over Ohio State. The 13-point loss was the Buckeyes' largest home loss against a non-ranked opponent since 2017. Keegan Murray made another compelling case to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, going off for 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Murray has scored at least 21 points in six consecutive games, improving his conference-leading points per game average to 23.4.

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Iowa is the Big Ten's top-scoring team at 83.5 PPG, and they often scorch the nets when playing at home. The Hawkeyes have scored at least 80 points in half of their league home games, and two of the teams that held them under that threshold (Penn State and Minnesota) play at some of the slowest tempos in the country. Michigan State will not be afraid to get up and down with Iowa. Izzo's teams recently have been notorious for getting the ball out of the net quickly and putting pressure on opposing defenses before they set up in the half court.

Michigan State's turnover rate ranks dead last in the conference, coughing the ball up on 20% of their possessions in league play. That is a recipe for disaster against an Iowa defense that forces turnovers at the highest rate in league play, which means the Hawkeyes are likely to score often easily in transition. Conversely, Iowa is the league's worst team at keeping opponents off the offensive glass, as they allow Big Ten opponents to rebound 32.4% of their misses. Strong offensive rebounding is always a staple of Izzo's teams, and that is the easiest path for Michigan State to score easy buckets.

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Each team is built to take advantage of the other's weaknesses, which means we should be in for a high-scoring game. There is more value on the total than the spread, as we expect Izzo's bunch will recover from their slump at some point. 

The over is 9-6 in Michigan State's 15 conference games and is 18-7-1 in Iowa's 26 games overall. In addition, at least one team has surpassed 80 points in five of the last six meetings between these teams. Not even this high total is too high in what should be an entertaining track meet.

Michigan State vs Iowa Line Movement

Michigan State vs Iowa Pick

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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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