It is another wonderful Friday for Big Ten basketball even if there is only one game on the schedule. The newly revitalized Michigan State Spartans welcome in the struggling Wisconsin Badgers later this evening. While the Spartans are clear favorites in this game, the Badgers could become troublesome. None the less, a 15 point spread seems to be an adequate assessment given the difference in record and talent level.
Certainly, some of the eyes that were once on Michigan State’s basketball program have been diverted elsewhere. With the verdict of former university employee (I refuse to call him a physician) Larry Nassar coming down on Wednesday, the spotlight has been put on the university brass. President Lou Anna Simon resigned shortly after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.
It has certainly been one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of Michigan State over the past seven days. If anything, the Spartan faithful can take refuge in their basketball team. All of the negative attention put on their school can be taken away for a few hours tonight.
Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET - FS1
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-15)
The question of if the Spartans were in trouble was swiftly ended as they stomped Indiana a week ago by 28 points. They followed that performance up with another win over Illinois on the road. This shift in quality of play has to do with the performances of Miles Bridges in the last two games.
In the rout of Indiana, the sophomore scored 22 points on nine of 13 shooting. Bridges then scored 31 points on 11 of 13 shooting in the victory over Illinois. That averages out to 26.5 points per game on a cumulative 77 percent shooting clip. While this type of play is not relatively surprising, given how talented Bridges is, it is the efficiency that has been most welcome. The sophomore shoots a high percentage as it is (49 percent), but shooting nearly 80 percent over the last two games is astounding.
After destroying Illinois last Friday, Wisconsin looked poised for another Big Ten win over Iowa on Tuesday. However, the Badgers were completely embarrassed by the Hawkeyes, losing by 28 points. This bad loss was due in part to their poor shooting from three-point range. The Badgers only shot four of 18 from long range, a measly 22 percent. Ethan Happ played well, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but that is honestly the only positive to take away from the game. They shot the ball poorly and were dominated on the glass by Iowa. The end result had Wisconsin dropping to 3-5 in conference play.
What sets Michigan State apart is their ability to rebound at a much higher rate than Wisconsin. The Spartans haul in roughly 11 more rebounds per game as a team compared to the Badgers. That is a massive mark which could be too large for Wisconsin to overcome. Wisconsin can pin their hopes on the fact that they are a top-40 defensive team in the nation based on how many points they allow per game. However, Michigan State is just as good, if not better on the defensive end. That formula could lead to a tough game for the Badgers.
In the end, I will take the overall talent ahead of the possible upset potential that Wisconsin provides. The Badgers are just far too unreliable to trust in a game against a team of Michigan State’s caliber.
- Pick Against the Spread: Michigan State