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Michigan State Favored Against USC In NCAA Tournament’s First Round

Spartans’ 3-point shooting arguably their biggest strength entering March Madness




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Tom Izzo and Michigan State haven’t made a Sweet 16 since 2019. Could the Spartans’ recent trend of early tournament exits change this March? 

Michigan State opens its NCAA Tournament on Friday at 12:15 p.m. against USC. The game, which will air on CBS, pins the No. 7 seed Spartans against the No. 10 seed Trojans. 

Friday afternoon’s winner faces the winner of No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 15 seed Vermont — a first-round game set to take place about 30 minutes after the conclusion of MSU-USC. While facing USC is no easy task, Michigan State is favored in the game, and the Spartans could draw a favorable crowd in Columbus, Ohio.

A future matchup with Marquette could bode well for the Spartans’ outside shooters, perhaps leading to a deep March run for Michigan State. 

Spartans favored over Trojans

Most mobile sportsbooks in Michigan list the Spartans as slight favorites to take down USC. BetRivers and Caesars Sportsbook have the Spartans as 2-point betting favorites. FanDuel and PointsBet list Michigan State as a 2.5-point favorite. DraftKings is a shade lower, with the Spartans at -1.5.

The Michigan State moneyline is around -130 at most mobile sportsbooks across the state. The total for the game is 137.5 points at most sportsbooks.

Shooting from beyond the 3-point line is arguably Michigan State’s biggest weapon entering the tournament, as three Spartans shoot over 40% from 3-point range. Both USC and No. 2 seed Marquette rank outside the top 100 nationally in 3-point defense, with Marquette ranking outside the top 250 in 3-point field-goal defense. 

Should the Spartans get by USC, they match up well with the Golden Eagles. Michigan State’s pre-tournament odds of making the Sweet 16 are listed at +300 on BetMGM.

Michigan’s NIT run continues

While the Michigan Wolverines would much rather be in the NCAA Tournament, they did pick up a win over Toledo in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday. Their postseason journey continues Saturday at noon when they play at Vanderbilt. 

Odds for the matchup have yet to be released, but they should soon be available at mobile sportsbooks across the state. projects Michigan to be a 1-point underdog against a Vanderbilt team that made a late push to try to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. 

Vanderbilt has won 11 of its 13 games since the start of February. A slow start to the season doomed the Commodores’ NCAA Tournament hopes, but they’re gunning for an NIT title.

 Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images