Michigan State vs. Ohio State Prediction: Struggling Offenses to Continue in This Big Ten Battle

College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the Big Ten battle between Michigan State and Ohio State.
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Michigan State vs. Ohio State Prediction: Struggling Offenses to Continue in This Big Ten Battle

Neither Michigan State nor Ohio State is seemingly in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament, but neither is playing like a tournament team at the moment. Did we simply overvalue the Spartans after a 14-2 start, or can Tom Izzo get his squad again playing its best basketball as he has done so many times before in March? And is Ohio State’s recent slide more of a product of injuries than any big flaw they have? How does each team’s slide play into their matchup in Columbus tonight?

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

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Michigan State vs. Ohio State Prediction

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Michigan State (19-10, 10-8) has lost four of its last five games, but confusingly, the lone win in that span came against Purdue, one of the best teams in the country. One could argue the Spartans were lucky to win that game as the Boilermakers helped Michigan State’s cause by turning the ball over 17 times and making just one of their nine 3-point attempts. 

Michigan State has had major road issues recently and enters this game on a four-game road losing streak and losers of five of its last six away from home overall. In many of these losses, the Spartans have been non-competitive, as they have lost by at least 16 points in three of those defeats.

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In theory, Ohio State (18-9, 11-7) should be coming into this game with a ton of momentum, but they instead lost back-to-back head-scratching games against Maryland and Nebraska, two of the worst teams in the league. The Buckeyes played most of their last game against Nebraska without Kyle Young, who left with an undisclosed illness after eight minutes. In addition, they were missing Zed Key, who injured his ankle in the Maryland game. 

With such a quick turnaround after having played on Tuesday night, one would not expect Key to suit up, and Young’s ability to overcome an illness in less than 48 hours is also in question. Especially if Key is out, Ohio State loses a post presence that can take the defense’s attention away from E.J. Liddell. And if Young is once again limited, Tom Izzo’s squad can swarm Liddell with reckless abandon, as the Buckeyes would not have many other offensive weapons.

Michigan State has had their share of issues on the offensive end all season, as they are the only Big Ten team to have their leading scorer average fewer than 12 points per game. In addition, Gabe Brown (11.4 pts) is the Spartans’ only player averaging in double figures, as Izzo’s squad still has not developed a consistent go-to scorer. The Spartans are also the worst team in the Big Ten in taking care of the basketball, as they turn the ball over on a league-worst 19.2% of possessions in conference play.

The Spartans have developed into a team that does not generate consistent half-court offense and relies too much on getting easy baskets in transition. Possibly playing without their best offensive rebounder (Key), look for Ohio State to eschew offensive rebounds in favor of getting back in transition and making this game as much of a half-court grind as they can with a shorthanded squad. 

The under has cashed in eight of Ohio State’s 14 home games, and is 5-1 in their last six games as favorites. In addition, the under is 10-4 in Michigan State’s last 14 as underdogs. Despite the Buckeyes’ glaring defensive issues, the Spartans are not built to take advantage of their liabilities, and we do not expect a Buckeyes team with so many key injuries to light up the scoreboard as well.

Michigan State vs. Ohio State Line Movement

Michigan State vs. Ohio State 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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