A pair of schools from the state of Michigan lock up in the Hitachi College Basketball Showcase in the Motor City. The #2 Michigan State Spartans square off with the Oakland Golden Grizzlies Saturday afternoon. Michigan State won its eighth straight as they pounded Southern Utah 88-63 at home last Saturday. Oakland won for the fourth time in five games as they pounded Chicago State 82-50 at home last Saturday. The Spartans have owned the series, winning all 15 previous meetings, including a 77-65 home win in the last matchup on December 21, 2016.
Michigan State Spartans Go for Ninth Straight Win
Michigan State had little problem with Southern Utah as they keep rolling along in the early part of the season. The Spartans have won eight straight since their loss to then-#1 Duke and are 9-1 overall, including 2-0 in Big Ten play. Michigan State led by 12 at the half against Southern Utah and just built on their lead in the second half. The Spartans shot 47.5 percent from the field and nine of 19 from three point range while connecting on 23 of 31 free throw attempts. Michigan State controlled the glass 49-34 and held the Thunderbirds to 32.3 percent shooting in the game. Nick Ward, Jaren Jackson Jr. (13 rebounds) and Miles Bridges (11 rebounds, six assists) each had 17 points to lead the team in the win.
The Spartans are 86th in the nation in scoring with an average of 80.2 points per game. Michigan State is elite in rebounding, ranking 8th in the nation (43.7 per game) and 12th in assists with 18.8 dimes a night. The Spartans are well above average defensively as they are 13th in the nation by allowing 68.3 points per contest. Michigan State is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor as a team this season. The Spartans sink an average of 7.6 triples a night while hitting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. Michigan State is decent at the free throw line as they convert 72 percent of their chances at the stripe. Miles Bridges leads the team with 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Nick Ward (13.7 points, 6.1 boards, 1.5 blocks), Joshua Langford (12.9 points), Cassius Winston (12.7 points, 6.7 assists) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds) each average in double figures. Tom Izzo does need more depth: only Matt McQuaid scores more than 3.4 points a game once you get past the double digit guys.
Oakland Golden Grizzlies Try to Upset #2 Team in Country
Oakland has won four of five after walloping Chicago State their last time out. The Golden Grizzlies now set their sights on taking down the #2 team in the country and earning the first win in school history over Michigan State. Oakland led by 14 at the half and poured it on in the second half, outscoring the Cougars 45-27 after intermission. The Golden Grizzlies rolled to the win despite shooting 44.8 percent from the field while shooting four of 23 from three point range. Oakland held Chicago State to 27.1 percent from the floor and won the rebounding battle 48-32. Jalen Hayes had 30 points and 10 rebounds in the win to lead the Golden Grizzlies.
The Golden Grizzlies are 103rd in the nation in scoring offense as they average 79.4 points per game. The team is 86th in rebounding by collecting 38.5 boards per contest. Oakland is tied for 34th in the nation with 17.2 assists per game. The Golden Grizzlies are scuffling on the defensive end as they are 302nd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 79.3 points per game. The Golden Grizzlies shoot 44 percent from the floor as a team. Oakland is connecting on 8.8 three point field goals per game while shooting 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Golden Grizzlies have been solid at the free throw line as they convert 74.6 percent of their chances at the stripe as a team. Kendrick Nunn leads the team with 21.7 points plus four assists a game this season. Martez Walker contributes 21.2 points plus 4.5 rebounds a contest while Jalen Hayes is good for 19.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Nick Daniels, James Beck, Isaiah Brock and Brailen Neely each score at least four points a game for Oakland this season.
- Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
- Spartans are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss
- Golden Grizzlies are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- Golden Grizzlies are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games
The situation here is similar to what we saw in the first game of this classic with Detroit Mercy and Michigan. Oakland is a gifted offensive team that is capable of piling up a lot of points in a short period of time. They also have a defense that has been gashed and gives up points by the truckload: they gave up 102 to Kansas and 95 to Eastern Michigan. Michigan State is on a roll and they are suffocating defensively. The length of the Spartans, especially in the low block, is going to make things a challenge for the Golden Grizzlies. Look for Michigan State to make it 16-0 as they exploit the Golden Grizzlies’ weak defense to get the win.
Pick: Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has been rolling since they lost to Duke as they own wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame, both of whom were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Oakland can’t say anything of the sort as their lone game against a ranked opponent ended in a 102-59 mauling by #3 Kansas on the road. The Golden Grizzlies have plenty of offensive weaponry but they lack the ability to put together a cohesive defensive performance. Against a team like Michigan State, that’s pretty much signing your own death warrant and dooming yourself to a loss.
The under is 5-1 in the Spartans’ last 6 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points, 4-1 in their last 5 non-conference games, 4-1 in their last five Saturday games and 5-2 in their last seven games overall. Oakland has seen the under go 7-0-1 in their last eight after a straight up win of at least 20 points, 3-0-1 in their last four neutral site games and 6-1 in their last seven Saturday games. This one likely will stay under the total even with Oakland’s pathetic defense.