A big battle in the Big Ten and nationally takes place tonight as the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers travel to take on the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans. The game is scheduled for a start time of 7:00 p.m. and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the college basketball odds for the game have Michigan State favored by 2 points.
Massive game in the best conference in college basketball tonight. In fact, this is the first time the Breslin Center will see two teams ranked in the Top 5 play. It's also the second time the Spartans are welcoming in a Top 5 ranked team this season, having already beaten Michigan.
Michigan State hasn't lost since getting beat by Indiana 75-70 back on January 27, a span of five games. But, much like Michigan just went through in a brutal four-game stretch, the Spartans have to play host to the Hoosiers tonight, then travel to Columbus and Ann Arbor next week before facing Wisconsin. The Big Ten truly is the best conference in college hoops.
In the previous game between these two clubs, Victor Oladipo had a massive game with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks. He rolled his ankle in the team's last game but is expected to play in tonight's contest. He's going to have to, because Michigan State plays defense and they will neutralize the Hoosiers potent attack. Both clubs are atop the Big Ten standings with identical 11-2 records, so it goes without saying that tonight's game will put one team on top. And of the two, Indiana might have an "easier" last four games — taking on Minnesota, Iowa and then the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Cody Zeller has been a force for sure, but his attack on the glass for dunks on the offensive end isn't happening tonight. Michigan State actually rebounds well and bodies up. He will surely play with his back to the basket tonight and the play of both Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix will be big for the Spartans.
Sparty freshman Gary Harris torched Michigan last week and is from Indiana, so he will probably want to play with an extra amount tonight. But the tough Keith Appling has stepped up and showed us he can be a leader, which is exactly what a Tom Izzo team needs on the floor.
And while Michigan State is a great play at home and certainly will be the toughest environment the Hoosiers have played in up to this point, they are a good road team. Indiana has lost just once on the road, the buzzer-beater at the hands of Illinois. Christian Watford is going to be the key to tonight's game. He's proven he can play big in big games and he's the type of player you need in order to pick up victories on the road.
Indiana is the second highest scoring team in the country in points per game. Michigan State will be the best defensive team they've seen, especially at home. I don't see this game being played in the 70s like the previous one at Bloomington, which obviously favors the Spartans. In a lower-scoring affair at home, they're certainly going to be in it.
Yet, hard to go against the Hoosiers at this point. Watford is going to be the x-factor and look for him to fuel the Hoosier run.
Free Pick: Indiana 68, Michigan State 62
Betting Tips For College Basketball Conference Games
Chuck Edel, Chris Andrews and Vegas Runner give some tips on betting college basketball conference games.