Michigan State Spartans vs. Arizona Wildcats - 11/11/16 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Arizona Wildcats (25-9) at Michigan State Spartans (29-6)
College Basketball: Friday, November 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm (Stan Sheriff Center)
The Line: Michigan State Spartans -3.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
Coming up on Friday from Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Michigan State Spartans will meet up with the Arizona Wildcats in opening-night college basketball action.
Arizona is coming off a 25-9 record last season (12-6 in the Pac-12) and lost to Oregon in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. As an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament (a No. 6 seed in the South Region), the Wildcats floundered with a first-round loss to Wichita State.
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Arizona is missing their top two scorers from last season, Ryan Anderson (15.3 PPG) and Gabe York (15.0 PPG), but do retain Allonzo Trier, who was third on the team in scoring in 2015-16 with 14.8 PPG and a 28.0 MPG average. Guard Kadeem Allen will likely be seeing an increased role this season as well, building off his 8.4 PPG and team-high 3.6 APG averages last season.
Over on the Michigan State side, the Spartans managed to go 29-6 (13-5 in the Big 10), finishing off the conference tournament with wins over Ohio State, Maryland and Purdue to become champions. In Michigan State’s 19th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Spartans were stunned by No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee, which could very well be the greatest upset in tournament history.
Michigan State will be losing their top three scorers from last season in Denzel Valentine (19.2 PPG), Bryn Forbes (14.4 PPG) and Matt Costello (10.7 PPG). Guard Eron Harris is back for the Spartans this year, however, following 9.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 2.1 APG last season. The loss of Valentine will likely affect Michigan State the most however, as he played 33.0 MPG and was far and away the team leader in rebounds (7.5) and assists (7.8) per game.
The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight versus the Big 10, and 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference games. Arizona is also 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall, and 1-7 ATS in their last eight neutral site games.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games overall, and 3-1-1 ATS in their last five versus the Pac-12. Michigan State is also 5-2 ATS in their last seven Friday games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral-site games.
With change in the wind for both these squads, it’s tough to predict anything coming out of the gate. We’re going to need a substantial sample size before we see how these teams gel. Trier (as long as he’s eligible) will likely emerge as the star for Arizona, with Lauri Markkanen emerging as a freshman. As for Michigan State, they’re pretty beat up right now in the front court and will play small most of the year. As such, I think the Spartans will get out-rebounded here and miss out on some desperately-needed second-chance points. I’ll take Arizona here, but honestly the whole thing feels like a dice-roll at this point.