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12/18 Big Ten Preview: Oakland at Michigan State

Preview all of Monday’s Big Ten action.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten only has one game on Monday night, but it puts two in-state foes against each other. Michigan State hosts Oakland in a game that has often been closer than many projections expect. We’ll see if that continues on Monday night.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Oakland Golden Grizzlies at Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 14

It’s been a bizarre start to the season for the Spartans. Despite impressive preseason rankings and projections, Michigan State stumbled out of the gate, losing the team’s opener to James Madison and drifting all the way to 4-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play by last Sunday. The team’s advanced numbers also tumbled from 13 to 33rd over just a few weeks.

Not exactly encouraging signs.

However, things flipped on Saturday, as Michigan State thoroughly dominated Baylor in Detroit on a semi-neutral court. The game was never competitive and the Spartans’ defense crushed the Bears, holding Baylor to a putrid 0.90 points per possession. The win got many believing again in East Lansing.

The question is now whether that improved play shows up again on Monday, as the Spartans host a feisty Oakland squad. While the Grizzlies are projected as significant underdogs, the team has shown plenty of fight, taking Ohio State down to the wire to open the season and upsetting Xavier on the road in late November. It should be a good test for Michigan State to show some consistency.

Perhaps the most interesting battle will be upfront as Chris Conway and Trey Townsend battle Malik Hall and Michigan State’s revolving group at the five. Oakland isn’t a great shot blocking team, but the group has been pretty solid in the paint, especially on the offensive side of the court. It should be a good challenge for Hall, Mady Sissoko, and the other rotation pieces. If the Spartans hold up there, this should be a win.

  • Pick: Michigan State

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Picks Record This Season: 42-17