The Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes meet up tonight in Big Ten College Basketball action. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have the Hawkeyes favored by a slim margin in this one.
Michigan State is not having the type of season they are used to. Tom Izzo's club has already dropped five games on the season and sits at 1-1 in Big Ten play. Obviously the Spartans are replacing a lot of players from last season's roster, but this year's Michigan State team still has a wealth of solid players. Tonight they face a gritty Iowa team that is favored over Michigan State, a strange place for an Izzo team to be.
Iowa could be one of the sleepers in the Big Ten this season. Fran McCaffery and his fired-up attitude have the Hawkeyes at 11-4, but their losses came against Syracuse, Texas, Iowa State and the bad one — Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes do own one of the better wins in the early season though, knocking of North Carolina in Chapel Hill back in December.
So which teams will we see tonight? Will we see the inconsistent squads that don't play at a high level or will we see a solid game between two potential top half Big Ten contenders? It's clear Michigan State is not on the same level they have been under Izzo and winning on the road this season has been a problem. This will be just the third true road game for Michigan State this season, where they have gone 1-1 so far, knocking off Navy in the season opener before losing to Notre Dame in overtime nearly a month later.
Iowa will need to win the rebounding battle, something Michigan State is very good at under Izzo. The Spartans rank 27th nationally in rebounding per game, just a few spots ahead of Iowa. The team that hits the board better and takes advantage of offensive putbacks gets an edge in this one. Aaron White is the Hawkeye leader in scoring and rebounding this season and will battle on the interior with Branden Dawson and the Spartan front line. That's going to be a great matchup and could determine the outcome.
Michigan State has better guards (Denzel Valentine plays the guard position frequently), but Iowa is very tough in home games. MSU just tore up Indiana in their last game and the same type of effort in this game would equal a win, but the Spartans are on the road. Look for Iowa to get a win here at home tonight.
Free Pick: Iowa 66, Michigan State 60
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