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Spartans, Wolverines Both Favored At Home As They Tip Off Big Ten Play

Michigan State hosts Wisconsin and Michigan faces Indiana in conference openers Tuesday night




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Michigan State basketball

After some uneven results in non-conference play by Michigan State and Michigan, both the Spartans and Wolverines look to find a winning note Tuesday night in their Big Ten conference lid-lifters.

It is the first time Michigan State (4-3) is starting Big Ten play unranked since the 2016-17 season, as it hosts No. 23 Wisconsin. Michigan (4-4) faces Indiana at Crisler Arena — still being led by Phil Martelli as coach Juwan Howard continues to transition back after undergoing heart surgery Sept. 15.

The Big Ten figures to be its typical unrelenting meat grinder all winter as the 14-team league has an incomplete round robin with 20 league contests. Michigan State has not won the conference regular-season title since claiming a share in 2019-20, while Michigan’s last Big Ten title was an outright one in 2020-21.

State still dealing with perimeter shooting woes

Michigan State’s 4-3 record looks ordinary, but all three of those defeats have come to teams trending to be in the NCAA Tournament come March. The Spartans lost to then-Top 10 teams Duke and Arizona on neutral courts, with the Wildcats now the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25. State’s surprising season-opening loss at home to James Madison is looking to be less of an albatross than originally thought as the Dukes are 8-0 and ranked 18th.

In the odds offered across the sports betting apps, Tom Izzo’s team is a consensus second choice to Purdue (No. 4 nationally) to win the Big Ten title. FanDuel and BetRivers are offering the best value for that play at +500, while BetMGM has a +400 listing.

The Spartans still have relatively short odds to reach the Final Four in Phoenix, with FanDuel the top play at +750 followed by BetRivers (+550) and DraftKings (+500).

But if Izzo’s squad is going make its 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament, it must shoot better from 3-point range. The Spartans are 12th in the league in 3-point shooting at 26.9%, and its 35 threes made rank ahead of only Indiana. Tyson Walker is tied for second in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.5 points per game, but is shooting just under 30% (8-for-27) from beyond the arc.

The good news is Michigan State’s defense is at its typical stout level — the Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting defense (27.3%) and overall shooting defense (36.1%). The latter is good for fifth among Division I teams, and its 62.3 points per game allowed ranks third best in the conference.

Michigan State, which has won 11 of its last 14 against Wisconsin, is a favorite ranging from 4.5 points at FanDuel (-110) to 5.5 points (-105) at ESPN BET, SI Sportsbook, and BetMGM. FanDuel has the best play on the moneyline at -200, with ESPN BET a distant second at -215. The total ranges from 130.5 points on the low side, where SI Sportsbook has a -125/-111 split, to 132.5 points at DraftKings and Caesars, which are both offering -110 in both directions.

Bettors expecting a defensive tussle can get the under at 131.5 points at ESPN BET at -105, while those favoring the over can grab the 131 being offered from PointsBet at -110. The Badgers (6-2) are coming off a 75-64 victory against then-No. 3 Marquette in which Max Klesmit scored all 21 of his points in the first half in helping Wisconsin grab a 13-point halftime lead.

Michigan about -300 on the moneyline

The Wolverines open Big Ten play without a true marquee victory, though their 89-73 win at St. John’s on Nov. 13 could prove helpful if the Red Storm play their way into contention in the Big East. The Wolverines are longshots to win the Big Ten, with BetMGM, FanDuel, and BetRivers all offering that play at +2500.

Michigan recently went 1-2 in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, bracketing a win over Stanford with losses to Memphis and Texas Tech. Martelli’s team is coming off an 86-83 overtime loss at Oregon on Saturday, spoiling a career-high 33-point effort from Dug McDaniel. He made 7 of 12 shots from 3-point range as Michigan connected on 13 of 31 from beyond the arc.

McDaniel leads the Wolverines in scoring at 20.3 points per game and is shooting 41.2% from deep. Michigan is third in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 38.2%, but it ranks last in defending the arc as opponents are connecting at a 39.4% clip. The Wolverines are giving up 76.4 points per game, second-worst in the conference and 281st among the 350 Division I teams.

The Wolverines, who have lost three straight to Indiana by a combined eight points after winning the previous nine meetings, are solid favorites against the Hoosiers. ESPN BET is offering Michigan -6.5 at -115, though the most common offering is -7 at -110 found at Caesars, DraftKings, PointsBet, and BetRivers. Those very confident in Michigan can lay 7.5 points at FanDuel at -105.

ESPN BET (-290) has the only moneyline play below -300, though DraftKings and Caesars come close at -305. The total is ranging from 144.5 points at FanDuel, which has a -115/-105 over/under split, to 145.5 points at BetMGM (-110) and ESPN BET (-105/-115). PointsBet, BetRivers, DraftKings, and Caesars have staked out the middle ground at 145 points, with all three offering -110 in both directions.

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