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NCAAB Betting – Can (11) Spartans End Slide vs (7) Terps

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in College Basketball

Jan 23, 2016 · 5:25 AM PST

(7) Maryland Terrapins at (11) Michigan State Spartans (-3.5)

The start of Big Ten basketball has not been a welcome one for the no. 11 Michigan State Spartans (16-4, 3-4 Big Ten). After running the table to start the year, they’ve lost four of their last seven, including three in a row, entering this weekend’s tilt with the no. 7 Maryland Terrapins (17-2, 6-1 Big Ten). Michigan will try to shake off their recent struggles and move Tom Izzo into second all-time in wins at a Big Ten school tonight at the Breslin Center (6:30 PM Eastern).

It’s not like the Spartans haven’t come awfully close to ending this mini slide: they’ve lost their last two games by a combined two points. First they surrendered a late layup to Ethan Happ in a 77-76 loss to Wisconsin, then their comeback bid against Nebraska fell short, 72-71. In both games, MSU’s leading scorer, Denzel Valentine, had a buzzer-beater fall short.

Izzo has continued shuffling his starting five during the recent slide, going with a more offensive lineup. But the results have been mixed; Nebraska finished the game shooting 50-percent from the field. That’s a bad omen for the Spartans, as the Terps have the fifth-best field goal percentage in the entire nation.

Sophomore guard Melo Trimble is Maryland’s unquestioned leader, but overall, Mark Turgeon boasts a deep team that can get scoring from a lot of areas. The Terps have five players averaging double-digit points per game. They are also very comfortable playing a short bench, using just eight guys in their recent 62-56 overtime win over Northwestern.

Last season, Maryland took both regular season games against the Spartans, including a 68-66 double-OT thriller at Michigan State. The Spartans exacted some revenge in the Big Ten tournament, pulling out a 62-58 win.

What has to trouble the Spartans this time around is Maryland freshman Diamond Stone. Listed at 6’11 and 255 lbs, Stone is a load to handle down low. While this is a classic hard-rebounding Izzo team, they’ll have their hands full winning the battles on the boards.

Michigan State has not been good betting in Big Ten play, going just 2-5 ATS. Maryland is a decent 3-3-1 in the conference and they’ve only been underdogs once all season: a visit to North Carolina. Given how close the Spartans last few games have been, you have to be confident in Maryland’s ability to at least cover.

Pick: Maryland +3.5.

(Photo Credit: Cristine Maybourne (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].)

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