Sunday Big Ten Basketball Ohio State @ Michigan State Odds and Predictions – Free NCAAB Picks 3/4/2012

Free College Basketball Picks and Spreads: Ohio State @ Michigan State 2012 NCAA Basketball Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions 3/4/12: A potential three-way tie for the Big Ten title is one of the possible outcomes, when the 11th-ranked Ohio State Buckyes (24-6) travel to East Lansing to face the fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans (24-6) Sunday afternoon. If Michigan State takes care of business, the Spartans win the conference title outright. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes will earn a share of the conference crown with a win, and the Michigan Wolverines will make it a three-way split if they knock of Penn State Sunday. It is one of the few times that Michigan fans will be pulling for Ohio State, but that being said, the Spartans are three-point favorites at home.

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Sunday’s crucial showdown is a rematch of a February 11 game in Columbus that Michigan State won 58-48. The Spartans were physical with the Buckeyes from the opening tip, stifling Ohio State leading scorers Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas and William Buford. The game was played and Michigan State’s pace from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and the Buckeyes looked completely out of sync as they attempted to beat the Spartans at their own game. If Michigan State turns this weekend’s game into another slow-paced, half-court affair, it’s tough to see the outcome being any different.

For the Buckeyes, finding a way to get at least one of their top scorers open looks is a must. Ohio State isn’t going to win if Sullinger, Buford and Thomas combine to shoot 9-for-39 from the field like they did in the February loss. Throw in the team-s 2-for-15 shooting from beyond and the arc and 15 turnovers, and it is easy to see why the Buckeyes had their lowest-scoring output of the year in the first meeting with the Spartans.

While Michigan State’s defense is relentless, the Buckeyes have firepower on offense. After all, Ohio State ranks in the top 40 nationally in points per game and in the top 20 in field goal percentage. A big part of Ohio State’s offensive issues when the two teams met in Columbus was the Buckeye’s willingness to play at a slower pace. Granted, it is easier for the Spartans to slow down the game than it is for Ohio State to speed it up, but the Buckeyes didn’t even try to change the tempo. Buford and Thomas settled for long, contested jump shots, while Sullinger rarely caught the ball inside his comfort zone. If the Buckeyes make a conscience effort to force the action on the offensive end, especially in transition, it will go a long way to helping them pull the upset.

The X-factor in the game could be Michigan State’s starting frontcourt. Forward Draymond Green needs no introduction. He leads the Spartans in scoring and rebounding, and he is the frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. However, starting center Adreian Payne played a huge role in Michigan State’s earlier win over the Buckeyes, leading the team with 15 points and hitting all six of his shot attempts. Green and Payne combined for 27 in the February matchup, and if they outscore Sullinger and Thomas again Sunday, the Spartans will be in great position to win.

Michigan State is an excellent defensive team and an excellent rebounding team. The combination of the two means second-chance points are going to be hard to come by for the Buckeyes, and the same goes for open shots. Ohio State needs to knock down some perimeter shots to create some space for Sullinger to work and to force the Spartans to play from behind, but 3-point shooting one of the few things the Buckeyes don’t do well. With Michigan State likely to get the chance to crowd the paint and play its physical defense, Ohio State could be in trouble. After all, they couldn’t speed up the game in Columbus, and controlling the tempo in the Breslin Center will be even tougher.

Prediction: Michigan State Spartans (-3) Cover the Spread

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College Basketball: Ohio State @ Michigan State
Date: 3/4/12
Time: 4:00 PM EST on CBS
Vegas Odds Favorite: Michigan St -3 Total: Over/Under 128

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