No team has had a more disappointing start to the season than the Michigan State Spartans. After starting the year ranked in the Top 10 and dropping their opener to James Madison, they’ve fallen victim to a tough schedule with losses to Duke and Arizona.
Now, another Top-25 team is coming to town with the hard-nosed No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers heading to the Breslin Center to give the Spartans all they can handle. The college basketball odds have the Spartans as a 5.5-point favorite in what should be a low-scoring grudge match.
Find out where my best bets lie in our college basketball picks and predictions for Wisconsin vs. Michigan State on Tuesday, December 5.
Wisconsin vs Michigan State best odds
Wisconsin vs Michigan State picks and predictions
It’s been a lot of disappointment for Tom Izzo’s squad early. They’ve yet to win a game against a Power Five opponent and since losing in OT to the Dukes last month, they haven’t been able to rebound offensively.
Between the Michigan State Spartans' inconsistent offense and the Wisconsin Badgers’ tough defense, this is shaping up to be a Big Ten opener for both that lacks for points, putting the Under 131 in play.
This season, Michigan State is scoring just 74.9 points per game, 190th in the country, and has just one player scoring more than 11 points per game. Guard Tyson Walker’s 20.5 ppg have carried the Spartans and even he’s struggled as a consistent shooter, hitting just 29.6% of his threes and 60.7% of his free throws.
As a team, Michigan State has been dreadful at shooting. It's hitting only 26.9% from beyond the arc (337th in the country), 66.9% of its free throws (281st), and 45% of its shots from the floor (171st). The Spartans have been an offensive wreck who turn the ball over 11.3 times per game and can’t seem to find consistent shooting from anyone other than sophomore Tre Holloman.
To make matters worse, these Badgers are feisty and have been winning games thanks to their defense. Greg Gard’s program is 6-2 with its two losses coming in the first three games — including to No. 9 Tennessee. Since then, they’ve pulled off wins against No. 24 Virginia and No. 3 Marquette.
Coming off that upset of the Golden Eagles on Saturday, Wisconsin is now holding ranked opponents to 61.6 points per game. The Badgers have brought their best for their highest-profile opponents and have limited teams to just 63.9 points per game this season, the 40th-best mark in college basketball.
While the Badgers aren’t lighting up the scoreboard, they’ve been able to out-rebound, force turnovers, and slow games down. Wisconsin is allowing just 27.8 rebounds per game — the second-best in the country — while picking up 6.6 steals per game. They’re also only allowing a fifth-best 49.8 shots per game.
Their style of basketball doesn’t seem to be as much about forcing misses, but about limiting possessions and opportunities. That’s going to be a big difference-maker when matching up with an offense that struggles to shoot as much as the Spartans have.
What’s helped Michigan State stay afloat, and part of the reason there’s still hope, is its defense. It's held opponents to just 62.3 points per game, 27th best in the country, and has been one of the toughest teams to shoot against.
Opponents are hitting just 36.1% from the floor and 27.3% of their threes against Sparty. They’ve also managed 7.3 steals per game and 4.7 blocks per game. And this is a Badgers offense that’s lacking a star to push this defense.
Wisconsin has just one starter — St. John’s transfer AJ Storr — scoring over 12 points per game, but he’s been iffy as a shooter, hitting only 21.4% of his threes and 39.4% of his shots from the floor.
His struggles as a shooter have rubbed off on the entire offense. Wisconsin is scoring 74 points per game, hitting only 30.1% of its threes and 45.9% of its shots while also turning the ball over 10.5 times per game.
My best bet: Under 131 (-110 at bet365)
Wisconsin vs Michigan State same-game parlay
In a slow defensive game, Wisconsin should be able to keep the score close enough to cover against a Spartans team it's played better basketball than this season.
Gard has the Badgers ranked and buying into what he’s preaching, especially after their upset of Marquette.
"They believe in what our coaches have been talking about, kind of the vision of what we made out way back in the summer for what we thought this team could be and how good they can be," he said. "And you've still got to go do it. You've got to go earn it and you've got to finish games."
Michigan State has failed to cover against a ranked opponent this season while the Badgers are 2-1 ATS when playing Top-25 teams
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Wisconsin vs Michigan State spread and Over/Under analysis
The line has jumped around a bit in this one with some books opening having Michigan State as low as a 3.5-point favorite. Most have now come up to five or 5.5 for the Spartans.
Izzo’s program has been all over the map this season, going 3-4 against the spread, but 3-1 ATS in their last four. They’re 0-2 ATS against Power Five teams. The Badgers have been right down the middle at 4-4 ATS. They’re 3-1 in their last four and 2-1 as underdogs this season.
With these two offenses struggling, most books opened with a total between 129.5 and 131 and have remained there.
That total is nice and low because the Spartans rarely hit the Over (1-6) this season. The lone time they’ve hit it was in the season opener and this is their lowest total of the season.
Similarly, the Badgers have been a bad Over bet at 3-5. They’re 4-0 betting the Under in their last four and this is their second-lowest total of the season.
Wisconsin vs Michigan State betting trend to know
Michigan State has hit the Game Total Under in 15 of their last 19 games at home (+10.60 Units / 51% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for Wisconsin vs. Michigan State.
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Wisconsin vs Michigan State game info
|Jack Breslin Students Events Center, East Lansing, MI
|Tuesday, December 5, 2023
|7:00 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs Michigan State key injuries
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