Iowa vs Michigan State Odds, Picks and Predictions: Hawkeyes Hand Struggling Spartans Another Loss

The stats say the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Michigan State Spartans come into this Big Ten tilt on even terms, but recent trends suggest the road team is being undervalued tonight, as our college basketball picks outline.

Last Updated: Jan 26, 2023 1:43 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Kris Murray Iowa Hawkeyes NCAAM
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Two teams with NCAA Tournament ambitions will look to pad their resumes on Thursday night when the Michigan State Spartans host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten matchup.

Iowa (12-7) is coming off a disappointing loss at the Ohio State Buckeyes, which broke a four-game winning streak for the Hawkeyes. Michigan State (13-7) has lost three of four, most recently dropping an 82-69 decision at the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday. 

These two teams have similar records and overall profiles, but play very different styles of basketball. We’ll take a look at how this one will play out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Iowa vs. Michigan State on Thursday, January 26.

Iowa vs Michigan State best odds

Iowa vs Michigan State picks and predictions

It’s hard to find two teams that are more evenly matched than these two. Michigan State and Iowa both sit in the middle of the Big Ten standings — the Spartans are 5-4 in conference, while the Hawkeyes are 4-4 — and both are solidly in the March Madness field at the moment. 

Yet a closer look at these teams reveals some stark differences. Iowa is among the best offensive teams in the country, averaging 81.7 points per game, but can’t play any defense. Michigan State scores a paltry 69.7 points per game, but only gives up 65.9 to opponents, in large part due to a plodding pace of play.

That makes it difficult to know exactly what we’ll see on Wednesday night, as both teams will try to dictate the pace to their advantage. Most likely, both teams will take their standard approaches on offense, and we’ll see a tightly played game. 

That’s obviously what oddsmakers think will happen, as they have the Spartans as a 2.5-point favorite, essentially rating these two teams as equals before factoring in Michigan State’s home court edge. But I think that Iowa is being slightly underrated in this game, which presents us with some value on the Hawkeyes.

Michigan State isn’t entirely healthy heading into this game. Senior forward Malik Hall has sat out three straight games with a foot injury, and will be missing Thursday’s tilt as well. Hall is a versatile player who averages 9.9 points per game. More importantly, Hall is an excellent defender, and is shooting 85.7% from the free-throw line, two factors the Spartans will sorely miss in a close game.

The Hawkeyes run their offense through their wing players, meaning Hall’s absence will put even more pressure on his replacements. Junior forward Kris Murray (21.3 ppg) leads the way for Iowa as one of the top scorers in the country, with fellow senior Filip Rebraca (13.9 ppg) also contributing from the power forward position.

Even with these factors, this still promises to be a close game. But if anyone has a slight edge, it should be Iowa. Taking the Hawkeyes on the spread seems like a reasonable bet, but given that we’re only getting 2.5 points, I’m more interested in taking Iowa to win outright. This is a game that Iowa can absolutely win against a struggling Michigan State team, and I’ll take the extra value on the moneyline tonight.

My best bet: Iowa moneyline (+125 at WynnBet)

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Iowa vs Michigan State spread analysis

The Spartans opened tonight’s game as a three-point favorite. That number has moved towards the Hawkeyes slightly, and the consensus spread is now Michigan State -2.5. 

These teams have been equals by most advanced metrics, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that they have nearly identical ATS figures as well. Iowa is 11-8 ATS on the season, while Michigan State is 11-9 ATS. 

Everything you can look at in this game suggests a tight battle. I love to use the Ken Pomeroy ratings as a baseline, but they tell us nothing here: Iowa is 37th on his list, with Michigan State right behind at 40th. The difference between the two is less than a tenth of a point in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin metric.

The one concern for Iowa is its awful defensive performance against Ohio State on Saturday, when the Hawkeyes gave up 56 second-half points to the Buckeyes. However, this shouldn’t be a problem against Michigan State, as the Spartans don’t have the kind of firepower to put up similar numbers. 

Overall, I think this game is close to a toss-up, with just a slight edge for Iowa due to the Hall injury. If you want to bet the spread, take Iowa, though I prefer the moneyline route.

Iowa vs Michigan State Over/Under analysis

Sportsbooks set the early total for this game at 147.5. That number has come down a couple of points, with 145.5 being the consensus Over/Under as of noon Thursday. 

That’s a low number for the Hawkeyes and high for the Spartans, another clear sign of just how differently these teams play. Iowa typically has totals in the 150s, and still manages to exceed them most of the time. The Hawkeyes have hit the Over in eight of their past 10 games, despite books consistently giving them big totals to surpass.

Michigan State is capable of playing higher-scoring games on occasion, but it tends to attract totals down to nearly 130 points. The Spartans have still hit the Under in four of their last seven, as they look to grind games to a halt and keep the number of possessions down for both teams. 

If you forced me to place a bet on this market, I’d pick the Under, as I think Michigan State can likely stop the score from getting too high just by taking its time on offense. But my recommendation is to avoid the Over/Under on this contest.

Iowa vs Michigan State betting trend to know

Iowa is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall. Find more College basketball betting trends for Iowa vs. Michigan State.

Iowa vs Michigan State game info

Location: Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, MI
Date: Thursday, January 26, 2023
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1

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