Free College Basketball Picks: Columbia at Michigan State
by George Monroy - 11/14/2013
The Michigan State Spartans made a statement on Tuesday night with a huge win over the No. 1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats during the Champions Classic in Chicago. The Spartans erased any doubt—at least for now—about which school has the better team. Michigan State is one of the most experienced squads in the nation and returned many of their players from last season’s Sweet 16 tournament run. The Spartans will not hit the road until the mid-December, and they will not face their next big challenge of the season until they play the No.12-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on Dec. 4.
The Columbia Lions will play their biggest game of the year when they face the only Top 25-ranked team on their schedule Friday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Lions started the year 1-1 and are coming off of a one-point loss to the Manhattan Jaspers on Tuesday. Let’s take a closer look at the Lions versus Spartans matchup that is scheduled for a 9 p.m. ET tip-off and figure out which side has the most value to bet on.
Columbia at Michigan State Betting Story Lines
Michigan State had a 42-point win to open up the season against the McNeese State Cowboys. The team held the Cowboys to only 25 first half points and controlled the paint for the entire night. The Spartans out-rebounded their overmatched opponents by 37 boards. The No. 2-ranked team in the nation had a whopping six players score in double-figures and were led sophomore Gary Harris, who scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds and six assists. Harris also managed to score 20 points against the Wildcats on Tuesday. Many of the Spartans players are being overshadowed by the flashy freshmen recruits from Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, but the team has a roster of solid players that are capable of score 20 points on any given night. Guard Keith Appling had an outstanding game against the Wildcats and tallied 22 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals.
Columbia had a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Manhattan Jaspers on Tuesday. The team led by two points with four seconds left in the game but fouled a Manhattan player during with 0.5 seconds left on the clock as he made an off-balance shot. The Lions struggled from beyond the arc and only managed to make four of 15 three-point attempts. The team also shot poorly from the free-throw line and made only 62 percent of their attempts. Columbia was also out-rebounded 33-31 by a Jaspers squad that does not usually control the paint.
The Lions will be playing Michigan State for the first time in the school’s history and has not beaten a ranked opponent since 1976. Last season the Spartans’ had four wins of 26 points or more and beat the Nicholls State Colonels by 45 early in the season. Michigan State has won 73 straight home games against unranked nonconference opponents
Columbia at Michigan State NCAA Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Spartans opened as 26.5-point favorites over the underdog Lions, according to BetOnline. Columbia has a 6-13 ATS record over their last 19 Friday games and is 5-1 ATS versus teams with a winning percentage of over .600. The Lions’ “under” is 11-5 during their last 16 nonconference games. Michigan State is 1-5-2 ATS over their last eight games following a straight up win. The under is 4-0 during the Spartans last four Friday games and is 5-1 during their last six overall matchups.
Free College Basketball Picks: Columbia at Michigan State Odds
The spread for this game is a huge number, and in general I tend to lean toward the underdog in these situations. However, for Friday’s matchup, wagering on the Spartans minus the points feels like the best side take. The key to this game will be rebounding and controlling the paint—two areas that coach Tom Izzo’s squads pride themselves in. The Spartans were outrebounded 44-32 by the Wildcats during Tuesday’s high-profile matchup and will be looking to improve in that area against the Lions. This matchup will probably look a lot like Michigan State’s opening game against McNeese State where the Spartans pounded the glass and out-rebounded the Cowboys 66-29 and held them to only 56 points on the night. The spread is a large one, but the Spartans will be looking to continue their dominant start to the season and should be able to blow Columbia out of the building.
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