The No. 17 Michigan State Spartans (6-2, 0-2 Big Ten) look to bounce back from two straight losses to open the Big Ten season when they visit the No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1, 1-1) on Monday night. Michigan State was No. 4 in the country and undefeated before falling at Northwestern and at home to Wisconsin on Christmas Day.
The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, are coming off a huge overtime upset of Iowa on Christmas, evening their conference mark. Minnesota has topped 100 points in two of its last three conference games dating back to last season, but it might have a tough time doing that in this one.
Michigan State Spartans Preview: Needing A Win
The Spartans are struggling defensively, giving up 82 points a game in conference play. The loss to Wisconsin showed some of the team’s offensive struggles as well, with Michigan State shooting just 5-of-19 with four turnovers over the last 13 minutes of the loss, getting outscored 32-20 over that span.
Joey Hauser is the team’s leading scorer at 14.0 points per game, and he’s coming off a career-high 27 points against the Badgers. Hauser is also the top rebounder for coach Tom Izzo, averaging 8.6 per game.
The Spartans are going to need more consistency from Aaron Henry (12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists) and Rocket Watts (10.9 points, 4.6 assists), who combined for 7-of-22 shooting against the Badgers.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview: Encore Performance?
The Golden Gophers have quietly been one of the better teams in the Big Ten this season, with only a loss at Illinois keeping them from a perfect record. Coach Richard Pitino’s squad is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 84.7 points per game, but the Gophers rank last in the conference, allowing 75.9 points a contest.
Guard Marcus Carr is second in the league, averaging 24.6 points per game, and he’s coming off a 30-point, eight-assist performance against Iowa that included six three-pointers. Carr is tops in the Big Ten in both assists per game (6.2) and minutes played per game (36.1).
Forward Brandon Johnson came through big in overtime, hitting four three-pointers, and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in the big win. Center Liam Robbins provides size in the paint for the Gophers, averaging 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Spartans vs. Golden Gophers Betting Odds
MyBookie has the Spartans as three-point road favorites, with the over/under set at 152 1/2. It’s hard to picture an Izzo-coached team dropping three in a row, even if Minnesota has been playing so well.
The Golden Gophers could have a bit of a letdown after such a big win over Iowa, and the Spartans will take advantage.
Michigan State should pick it up on the defensive end, making it hard for Carr to score, and the Spartans will crash the glass on both ends of the floor. Look for a total team effort as Michigan State gets into the win column in Big Ten play with a big road win.
Spooky Express Free Betting Pick: Michigan State -3