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12/31 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State looks for fourth straight 100-point game

Sunday’s slate in the Big Ten features only one game with the Spartans listed as heavy favorites.

NCAA Basketball: Cleveland State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There’s still one more game in the Big Ten before the ball drops tonight and we welcome in the new year. However, it shouldn’t be a very exciting matchup.

Michigan State is the lone Big Ten team that’ll take the court on New Year’s Eve in a home matchup against pitiful Savannah State. The Spartans and Tigers enter this matchup in completely different boats, making this possibly the biggest mismatch we’ll see across the Big Ten all season.

Kind of a lame way to wrap up what’s been an exciting year of Big Ten basketball in 2017. But, hey, conference play is right around the corner and we can finally see some exciting matchups. Before that begins next week, let’s take a look at today’s matchup between Michigan State and Savannah State.

Game of the Day:

-Savannah State Tigers at No. 2 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET/Big Ten Network
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-41.5)

All you really need to know about this game can be told by the KenPom spread -- 41.5. That’s right, Michigan State is favored by 41.5 points in this matchup. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a spread that high before, but after taking a closer look at this matchup it starts to make sense.

As I said in the opening, these two teams enter this matchup in completely different positions, creating a huge mismatch. Let’s start with Michigan State, who is rolling right now.

The Spartans enter this final non-conference game on a 12-game winning streak, with each of those wins coming by double-digits. Most recently, Michigan State has been dominant against subpar opponents. In four home non-conference matchups this month, the Spartans hold an average margin of victory of 40.5 points. That includes a current streak of three straight more than 100-point performances, something Michigan State hadn’t done since 2004.

During this recent strong stretch, the Spartans have gotten a balanced scoring attack. At least four of the team’s five starters have reached double-digits in points in Michigan State’s last five games. Phenom sophomore Miles Bridges leads the bunch during that stretch with 19.2 points per game, with fellow sophomore stud Nick Ward right behind at 18 points per game.

So the good news for Michigan State is the offense is hitting on all cylinders right now. The even better news is Savannah State is dead last in points allowed per game. The Tigers are giving up an average of 96.8 points per game right now. So it’s safe to say Michigan State should hit triple-digits for a fourth straight game today.

Savannah State is 3-11 on the season with two of its wins coming against non-Division I teams and the other coming against winless Alabama State. The Tigers have given up more than 100 points in eight games this year -- so obviously defense is not a major concern for the Tigers. That may be why they rank 330th in the latest KenPom rankings.

One thing Savannah State has proven they can do is put the ball in the hoop. The Tigers are averaging 79.6 points per game, which ranks in the top 100 nationally. They’ve reached triple digits twice this year and recently dropped 86 against a ranked Baylor squad. Junior guard Dexter McClanahan leads the Tigers with 13.6 points per game.

Savannah State’s offense ultimately revolves around the three-point shot. They lead the country in three-point attempts with 563. That comes out to just over 40 attempts per game. However, they aren’t the most accurate, hitting only 29.7 percent from behind the arc -- that ranks 327th nationally. So basically the Tigers take a ton of three’s and don’t make enough of them to be any good.

The debate here isn’t whether or not Michigan State wins, it’s how much do they win by and will it be enough to cover. Predicting a team will win by 42 points is really bold. Regardless of the opponent, that’s a lot of points -- especially for a team that jacks up a lot of threes like Savannah State. Michigan State will win this one comfortably but I believe Savannah State hits some shots late for a backdoor cover.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Savannah State

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Record against the spread this season: 17-10-1