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Michigan State 8-Point Favorite vs Michigan In Juwan Howard’s First Rivalry Game as Head Coach

Michigan State Spartans
No. 14 Michigan State is a big favorite over No. 12 Michigan on Sunday in East Lansing. Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire.
  • No. 12 Michigan is an 8-point road underdog versus Michigan State on Sunday (1:30 pm ET, Jan. 5)
  • This will be Juwan Howard’s first taste of this rivalry as a head coach
  • The Spartans have won six straight – check our betting prediction below

One of college basketball’s best rivalries resumes Sunday (1:30 pm ET, Jan. 5) when No. 12 Michigan (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten) clashes with No. 14 Michigan State (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten). Juwan Howard’s first taste of this storied rivalry as a head coach will be as an underdog, as his Wolverines are getting 8-points in East Lansing.

No. 12 Michigan vs No. 14 Michigan State Odds

Team Spread Total
Michigan Wolverines +8.0 (-110) Over 143.0 (-110)
Michigan State Spartans -8.0 (-110) Under 143.0 (-110)

Odds taken Jan. 4.

Howard is one one of Michigan’s most famous alumni and is in his inaugural season as the Wolverines bench boss. Michigan enters play fresh off back-to-back victories, after stumbling in mid-December against Illinois and No. 4 Oregon. They’re 8-5 ATS this season, but winless in two attempts as a road underdog.

The Spartans meanwhile, have won six straight overall and have covered in three of their past four. They’re 5-2 ATS as a home favorite, and a top-6 contender in the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds.

Spartans Playing Spectacular Ball

Michigan State was the preseason No. 1, but got off to a rocky start by dropping three of its first eight. Since then, they’ve played perfect ball and have outscored their opposition by 146 points over a six-game stretch. They’re ranked fourth in KenPom’s overall efficiency metrics, and they feature one of the most complete offenses in the nation.

The Spartans rank eighth in points per game, second in total rebounding and first in assists. They shoot 47% from the floor and Cassius Winston is the current player of the year favorite. The senior point guard leads the team in scoring and assists, and is one of three players on the roster who averages at least 10.5 points per game.


At the defensive end, they do a good job forcing contested shots and they limit enemy shooters to just 36.9% from the floor. They rank 57th in points allowed, but have conceded more than 65 points just once in the last month. Last time out, they held the same Illinois team that recently beat Michigan to 29.3% from the floor en route to a 20-point win.

Michigan State will need another strong defensive effort if they hope to cover the 8-point spread Sunday, as Michigan is one of the premier shooting teams in the country.

These Wolverines are Versatile

Michigan is typically known for its stout defense, but this season it’s the offense that’s making the most noise. The Wolverines rank 29th in points per game, 18th in assist-to-turnover differential, and sixth in field goal percentage. They rank inside the top-10 in both two-point and three-point field goals, and have the versatility to excel playing small and big lineups.

Last time out versus UMass-Lowell, the Wolverines trotted out three players over 6-foot-10 for extended run, and overpowered the Hawks. That could be a strategy Howard deploys versus the Spartans, who have just one player above 6-foot-8 that gets significant playing time.

Michigan’s defense isn’t as dominant as in year’s past, but they’re certainly no slouch. The allow less than nine assists per game and limit opponents to just 4.5 made threes per contest. Their size has helped propel them to number two in the nation in blocks and they’ve held each of their past two opponents below 31% from the field.

Take the Points

The Wolverines are expected be without number two scorer Isaiah Livers once again, but they had no problem pouring in buckets in the two previous games he missed. Yes, his outside shooting will be missed, but there’s still plenty of talent on their roster to keep this game close.

As good as the Spartans have looked lately, they are 0-2 versus currently ranked teams, and their lack of size compared to Michigan could cause problems. This line feels at least 2-3 points too high, making the Wolverines a solid value.

Pick: Michigan +8 (-110)

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