The Iowa State Hawkeyes have been an incredible 11-1 at home this season but are 5-point underdogs against a Michigan State side that is making a strong claim to be ranked No. 1 in the country.
Photo By – USA TODAY Sports
No. 5 ranked Michigan State is the hottest team in the nation with 12 straight wins, but will be visiting the Iowa Hawkeyes who are also on a roll having won 10 of their last 11 games. The Spartans are coming off a 69-55 dismantling of a ranked Maryland side and will be taking on another ranked team in the Hawkeyes who are 16-3 this season, including 11-1 at home. We Break down the best bets to wager on for this Big Ten matchup.
The last time these two sides played was Dec. 3 when the Spartans routed the Hawkeyes 90-68 in Lansing. However, even in that game the Hawkeyes hung with the Spartans early, with the score tied 19-19 until almost midway through the first half. With Iowa having the home crowd behind them in this one don’t be surprised to see them hit the 20-point mark first.
Prediction: Race to 20 points – Iowa (+135)
First Half Bet
MSU are one of the few teams that score just as many points in the first half than they do in the second, averaging 41.6 points per game for each half. Iowa allows 34.1 points per game during the opening half, the higest amount in the Big Ten.
Iowa can also put up points in the first half, averaging 41.1 points per contest – only 0.6 points fewer than their second-half scoring average. The First half total seems a bit low here so go for the Over especially with a decent payout.
Prediction: First Half Total – Over 74.5 (+118)
When MSU is on the road, they tend to play teams close in the first half, before seperating themselves in the second. Their average scoring marging is just +2.3 in the first half while away but moves to +5.4 during the second half. Iowa has an average first-half margin of +9.7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and should be able to put up some points early in this one.
The Hawkeyes average 43.1 points per game in the opening half at home, and the Spartans allow 35.2 points per game in the first half while on the road – almost eight more points than they give up in Lansing. The Hawkeyes ability to get to the line should come in handy against a Spartan defense which doesn’t allow easy shots from the field. Iowa is third in the country in free throw attempts per game, and first in free throws made with 20.8 – two more than their nearest competitor. Take the first half Over for Iowa.
Prediction: First half team total – Iowa Over
Full Game Total
Both of these teams are two of the highest scoring in the country with MSU averaging 83.8 points per game and Iowa 82.8. And we’ve already gone with two Over picks, but don’t be so sure about taking the Over on the total here.
Iowa’s offense have been a bit limited against almost every good defense they have played in conference play this year, failing to score more than 73 points in games against Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State and their first game against MSU. Not only does MSU hold offenses to 36.6 percent shooting from the field (third-best in Division 1), but they’ve also been playing at a slower pace without guard Joshua Langford in the lineup, averaging only 68 possessions per game over their last three contests.
We think the second-half will be slower paced than the first, as the team in front tries to hold on to the lead. This is the opposite of many oddsmakers who have the second half O/U at about seven points higher than the first. We suggest leaning towards the Under here.
Prediction: Under 155.5
Full Game Side
This rematch should be closer than the 22-point massacre back in December. While Iowa has the home-court advantage this time around and has become a more balanced team since then, the gap in talent and athleticism is still too much to handle.
Iowa allows opponents to convert on an atrocious 51.9 percent of two-point field goal attempts. MSU hits on an extremely efficient 56.8 percent of their two-point field goals and have been increasingly taking more shots closer to the basket in the absense of one of their best outside shooters in Langford.
The Spartans have been taking care of business lately, not just winning the games they should but also consistently blowing out the teams they are better than, having gone 11-1 ATS in their last 12. MSU has been one of the best bets in the country so keep riding them and back them to win and cover the 5-point spread.
Prediction: MSU -5 (-110)