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NCAAB: Michigan State vs. Michigan odds, preview, and pick

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

March 3rd, 2021

If you’re a resident of the state of Michigan, Thursday evening brings much-anticipated appointment viewing, as Michigan State heads to Ann Arbor to take on the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. It's the rivalry that grips the state, and with Michigan recently legalizing sports gambling, it's about to get even better.

Fri, March 5 2021, 12:00 AM

Michigan

Moneyline

-835

Spread

-11.5

Total

O 139.5

Michigan State

Moneyline

+540

Spread

+11.5

Total

U 139.5

Michigan came back to earth against Illinois

The Wolverines had been playing like the best team in the nation up until their shocking defeat on Tuesday night against Illinois, 76-53. While Illinois is an incredibly impressive team in their own right and No. 4 in the nation, it was still a head-shaking loss.

Star freshman center Hunter Dickinson was neutralized, putting up just six points on 1-8 shooting. The Wolverines made just two threes and were out-rebounded 42-26. A quick and immediate bounceback from a team that has otherwise played superbly all season is imperative if they want to prevent their first losing streak of the season.

Streaking spartans are hungry for a statement win

The Spartans, meanwhile, are on an urgent chase for an NCAA Tournament bid. After starting the season 6-0, the Spartans struggled through the beginning of Big Ten play. They dropped seven of their first nine conference games, and have been on the outside looking in until recent big wins against Illinois and Ohio State. They are led by athletic guard, Aaron Henry, who averages 15.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. The Indianapolis native surely covets a return home to play in the bubble.

After their resume-building wins against Illinois and Ohio State, the Spartans had a not-unexpected letdown, falling to Maryland, 73-55. They bounced back on Tuesday with a hard-fought win against Indiana. The Spartans looked like the more desperate team in that matchup, hustling for loose balls and out-rebounding the Hoosiers in a win they needed leading up to their two-game series against Michigan. They went on an 8-0 scoring run in the final minute, and Henry dominated when it mattered most.

In-state rivalry will bring out the best in the Wolverines

When these teams face off on Thursday, the Spartans will presumably be facing a Michigan team ready to come out firing and rebound off their recent loss. Michigan had been cruising through their schedule, but sometimes a loss combined with a matchup against an in-state rival can refocus a team.

The Wolverines significantly outclass their rivals, and have a remarkably more effective offense with multiple scoring options and better team passing. The Wolverines will look to neutralize Henry, and the result is going to be a blowout victory for a team that could be Final Four-bound.

Score prediction: Michigan 75, Michigan State 60

NCAAB pick: Michigan

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