Pictured: Cassius Winston
Source: Abbie Parr / Getty Images North America

Preview: Michigan State at Wisconsin

It will be a battle to stay in contention for the Big Ten regular-season title Tuesday night when No. 12 Michigan State travels to face No. 23 Wisconsin. The Spartans, who broke a three-game losing streak with a 79-55 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, are a game behind first-place Michigan entering this contest while the Badgers, who fell to the No. 7 Wolverines 61-52 in their last outing, are two games behind and need a win to stay in the hunt.

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Junior guard Cassius Winston (team-high 18.6 points, league-best 7.4 assists, 44.5 percent 3-point shooting) is the spark plug for the high-powered Michigan State offense, which averages 81.9 points, best in the Big Ten. Forward Nick Ward (15.5 points) came alive in the win over Minnesota, scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while guard Matt McQuaid had a season-high 18 points and a career-best eight assists in the contest. Wisconsin will pose a challenge for the Spartans, though, as the Badgers are second in the league in scoring defense (61 points) and field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent), just behind Michigan State’s league-best 37.1 percent. Senior forward Ethan Happ is Mr. Everything for coach Greg Gard, averaging 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists – all of which rank in the league’s top ten – as he attempts to become the first player in Big Ten history to average at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (19-5, 10-3 Big Ten): Coach Tom Izzo has been mixing his freshmen in at varying times this season, though he may be forced into using one a little more than he’d planned in the next few games. Against Minnesota, forward Kenny Goins went down early with an elbow injury, playing only seven minutes, and reserve forward Xavier Tillman was hampered by foul troubles, which opened the door for 6-8 freshman forward Thomas Kithier to play a career-high 18 minutes. Kithier responded to the extra playing time, scoring a career-high eight points, and with uncertainty about Goins’ availability in the next few games, it’s likely that Kithier will see even more court time.

ABOUT WISCONSIN (17-7, 9-4): Sophomore guard Brad Davison already has a history against Michigan State, going for a career-high 30 points in a home loss to the Spartans last February. But it could be his defense that makes a difference in this game, with his penchant for drawing charges and Michigan State desperate to keep Winston out of foul trouble and in the game. The Spartans – and Winston in particular – had a difficult time with the on-the-ball pressure applied by Illinois in last week’s Illini win, with Winston turning the ball over nine times, and that kind of pressure is just what Davison will look to apply to the Spartans’ leading scorer in an effort to get him off his game.

TIP-INS

1. Michigan State leads the nation in assists per game, averaging 20.2, and is coming off a game against Minnesota in which it handed out 27 assists on 31 made field goals for a season-best 87.1 assist percentage.

2. Badgers G D’Mitrik Trice – younger brother of former Spartan G Travis Trice – is fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 44.9 percent, and Wisconsin as a team leads the conference, hitting 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.

3. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team to own a .500 or better record against Michigan State, going 17-17 against the Spartans over that span.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Iowa at Michigan State

Michigan State looks to stay unbeaten in Big Ten Conference play when it hosts Iowa on Monday. The eighth-ranked Spartans won their league opener Friday night at Rutgers 78-67, while 15th-ranked Iowa comes into the contest looking for its first Big Ten victory after falling to No. 22 Wisconsin 72-66 Friday at home.

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The Hawkeyes have a balanced scoring effort, led by the interior duo of junior forward Tyler Cook (15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds) and 6-11 sophomore center Luka Garza (13.9 points). Iowa is aggressive with the ball, ranking first in the country in both free throw makes per game (25.3) and in attempts (32.7) entering Sunday, with the Hawkeyes having made 19 or more free throws in six of seven contests. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo relies on his backcourt for offense and leadership, with junior guards Cassius Winston (17.9 points, 7.1 assists) and Joshua Langford (17.5 points) ranking 1-2 on the team in scoring. Junior forward Nick Ward is the third double-figure scorer at 14.6 points, but at 6-9, he struggles a bit against bigger defenders, so how well he handles Iowa’s front line will be a key for the Spartans.

TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT IOWA (6-1, 0-1 Big Ten): Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon came into the 2018-19 season having hit over 41 percent from 3-point range in each of his first two campaigns with the Hawkeyes. But the junior has struggled this season, hitting just 30.6 percent and posting his lowest scoring average at Iowa – 10.1 points per game. Bohannon continues to play and try to find his stroke – he hit three 3-pointers in the second half against Wisconsin – but he has yet to shoot consistently this season, and coach Fran McCaffery can only wait so long before going with other options.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (6-2, 1-0): One big problem for Michigan State in its losses has been turnovers, especially the unforced variety, though Izzo told reporters he continues to harp on his team about taking care of the basketball. After totaling 53 turnovers in its previous three contests, the Spartans were able to hold onto the ball against Rutgers, committing just seven miscues, including none from point guards Winston and Foster Loyer. Michigan State will need more of that against Iowa, a team that loves to apply pressure and get out on the break off an opponent’s turnovers.

TIP-INS

1. Garza is fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (60.7).

2. Michigan State G Matt McQuaid has missed the last two contests with a thigh injury and Izzo said he wasn’t optimistic the senior would play against Iowa.

3. The Spartans hold a 73-55 advantage over the Hawkeyes in their all-time series, having won 11 of the last 13 meetings.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Michigan State vs. UCLA

Michigan State has won preseason tournaments in three of the last five seasons including the Victory Bracket of the prestigious PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore., last season, rolling past North Carolina in the championship game. The 11th-ranked Spartans are focused on bringing home another trophy this week, but it won’t be easy as they open the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic with a semifinal game against No. 17 UCLA on Thanksgiving night.

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No. 6 North Carolina and Texas are on the other side of the bracket so it could take two top-20 wins within the span of 24 hours for the Spartans to take home the hardware. Either way, it figures to help toughen up Michigan State for the battles that lie ahead in a very deep Big Ten Conference race. “It’s just building that championship mentality, learning what it feels like to win a championship,” guard Cassius Winston, who took home MVP honors last year at the PK80 Tourney, told the Detroit News. “That’s the mindset we’re trying to get this week.” That means first getting past a UCLA squad that has won its first four games by an average of 22 points and presents a big problem in 7-1 freshman center Moses Brown, who is averaging 17.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (3-1): The Spartans have bounced back from a 92-87 loss to then-No. 1 Kansas in the Champions Classic to win three straight games over Florida Gulf Coast (106-82), Louisiana-Monroe (80-59) and Tennessee Tech (101-33) without breaking much of a sweat. Winston leads the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (7.0) after averaging 12.6 points and a Big Ten-best 6.9 assists last season. Junior guard Joshua Langford is second in scoring (17.0), while 6-8, 245-pound junior forward Nick Ward, considered an NBA prospect, is averaging 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds.

ABOUT UCLA (4-0): The Bruins surprisingly struggled in an 80-65 win over Presbyterian on Monday night, watching a 24-point second half lead dwindle to just three points thanks to a pair of 11-0 runs by the Blue Hose and 21 turnovers. “Really disappointed with the first 15 minutes of the second half,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I thought we were making growth in the first half and then we took about two steps back in the second half.” Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands scored 19 points to lead the Bruins, while 6-10 freshman forward Jalen Hill grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds.

TIP-INS

1. UCLA leads the series 6-2, although this marks the first meeting between the schools since the Bruins edged the Spartans 78-76 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

2. Brown is the first UCLA freshman to record double-doubles in his first three games.

3. Winston, Ward and Langford have combined to start 168 games in their career at Michigan State and are averaging a combined 49.6 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.5 assists so far this season.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

NCAA Fantasy Basketball

Ohio State vs Michigan State

Things are heating up in College Basketball in this last season game with Ohio State Buckeyes travelling to East Lansing to face the Michigan State Spartans once more. FanPicks is proud to bring you this NCAA Fantasy Basketball Preview ahead of the big March Madness tournament.

NCAA Fantasy Basketball

The Buckeyes are heavy underdogs coming into this game against the number 2 ranked Spartans. They’re a very young energetic team with a lot of potential when they play their best basketball. Currently tied in 5th with Iowa and Purdue, it will be the second time they meet Michigan State in less than 2 weeks. Despite a solid performance from Ohio State, they were unable to stop the red hot shooting from Bryn Forbes who sank 7 of his 10 3 pt attempts and finishing the night with 27. Even with the lost of their star forward Jae’Sean Tate for the season due to a shoulder injury, they’ve been playing well and other players have stepped up such as freshman Mickey Mitchell. The Buckeyes have lost their last 3 when visiting the Spartans but all games were decided by 4 pts or less. They will absolutely need a formula to stop Forbes’ shooting, currently the best in the country.

 

Going into this last game of their season, clinching the Big Ten title is impossible for the second ranked Spartans. However, they still have a good shot at runner up, currently in a 3 way second place tie with Wisconsin and Maryland, both playing on Sunday. Their leading scorer, senior Denzel Valentine will be playing his last season game tomorrow as a Spartans. Ranked among conference leaders, he’s mentioned in potential candidates to become national player of the year averaging 19.3 pts, 7.6 boards and 7.3 assists per game. Those absurd numbers put him on pace to be the first player in NCAA since 1983-84 season to rank top 10 in boards and assists, as well as high scoring average. He’s been getting quite the help lately from his teammate, Bryn Forbes, who’s been playing phenomenal. Forbes, the nationwide leader in 3-pt shooting average broke the Big Ten record this past Wednesday in their win against Rutgers, sinking 11 from beyond the arc. This will be an interesting and closer game people think with both teams in East Lansing.

Posted in CBB

NCAA Basketball Wisconsin St. vs Michigan State

Fantasy College Basketball preview

The Wisconsin Badgers will be travelling to Michigan to battle the # 9 ranked Michigan State Spartans this Thursday evening. FanPicks is proud to bring you this NCAA College Basketball matchup preview. Come enjoy daily Fantasy College Basketball news at Fanpicks.com ahead of this upcoming March Madness 2016.

The Badgers started their conference matches with 4 out of 5 losses before turning things around by beating the same Spartans a month ago 77-76. They have been perfect since and on a 7 game winning streak coming into this game. Wisconsin has won 3 consecutive games in double-digits and most recently, an impressive win on Saturday over Maryland. Vitto Brown, their junior Forward scored a career best 21 pts in that game pushing his season average to 9.5 per game. Their team leader Nigel Hayes tallied with a 14 pts, 6 rebounds and 2 assists performance. Hayes scored 25 pts in their first meeting, one of his 8 20+ pts performances in the season. The Badgers have won 4 of the last 5 matchups against the Spartans.

Michigan State is also performing well with five victories in its last six games led by their senior guard, Denzel Valentine averaging 19.5 pts a game, 7.1 assists and 7.7 boards. He was phenomenal in Sunday’s victory against Indiana, 88-69, with 30 pts and 13 assists. He’s potentially in the race for national player of the year, being one of the only players in the nation who can score and play defence at the same time at a level above others. The Spartans’ power forward, Matt Costello is coming back from his best game this weekend, with a career best 22 pts with 11 boards. He averages 10.3 pts and 8.3 boards on the season.

Posted in CBB

 

Maryland Terrapins at Michigan State Spartans

– 01/23/16 Preview

 

#11 Michigan State will be facing a tough matchup as #7 Maryland come in town and hope to snap a 3 game losing streak in their first meeting of the season. The Terrapins currently have the best record in the Big Ten Conference sitting behind Indiana and Iowa in the conference. The Spartans are the odd favorites to win (line: -4.5). Play the most exciting daily fantasy NCAA Basketball contest, including the newest Point Spread and $10K Grand Action contests only at Fanpicks the premiere daily fantasy sports site.

 

Game story:

 

Diamond Stone, Maryland’s Center will try to keep his for having been in double figures scoring the past 11 games and shooting 59.9% from the field.

Spartans’ guard Denzel Valentine has a team high average of 18.6 pts, 6.6 assists with 7.6 boards per game.

The Spartans will need a revival from their guard Bryn Forbes, who averages 13.5 pts per game this season but has only put 15 pts in the past 3 games.

The Terrapins have been shooting 51% for the field and holding their opponents to only 40.7% shooting.

Spartans dominate on the rebounds with an average of 42.4 boards per game while holding their opponents to only 30.2 . They also allow 63.2 pts per game while the Terrapins allow 63.6 pts per game.

The Terrapins will rely on Guard Melo Trimble who averages 13.9 pts per game even though 5 of their players average at least 10.4 pts per game.

Maryland has won both regular season matchups last years

Posted in CBB

Spartans snatch Big Ten playoff spot from Hawkeyes Game Recap

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Freshman L.J. Scott kept powering forward with his late lunge for a touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game sent the Spartans to the playoffs beating Iowa Hawkeyes 16-13 in Saturday night in the Big Ten championship game. Scott commented post game by saying, “I was just trying to make a big play for my brothers,” Scott said. “We knew what we had at stake.”

Going into the Big Ten Championship game with a record of 12-1, Iowa season ended in bitter disappointment, while the Spartans celebrated as players and fans alike sprinted unto the field in joyous celebration. The Spartans won their second Big Ten championship in three years and both against opposing teams with unbeaten season records. Cook and teammates are now looking forward to winning their first college national title since 1952. This ambition was echoed in Cook’s statement “We wanted to come back and win a championship, it’s awesome, man.”

Despite a sore shoulder Cook played an awesome game, although he seem to get hurt a couple of times during the game which unsettled him until the end. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 191 yards with no touchdowns and only one interception. Due to his game antics and poise, Cook was named MVP in contribution to a methodical 82-yard drive that consumed 9 minutes, 4 seconds and essentially sealed Iowa’s fate.

Leading the Spartan offence, Cook orchestrated play after play against a tough Iowa defence that did not concede a touchdown score. With this win, Michigan State heads into the postseason with utter confidence… coach Mark Dantonio speculated, “Our football team knows how to win. We can play it out, we don’t count ourselves out. When some things aren’t going so well, we keep playing as evidence by the game.”

Iowa’s defence was outstanding but disappointed both the team and fans with their inability to stop Scott in very last seconds of the game. In turn, the Spartans forced the Hawkeyes to settle for only three field goals before putting together that last-ditch drive. Losing quarterback Beathard mentioned after the game, “It’s tough, you’ve gone all season long and haven’t experienced what it’s like to lose a game. Every time we’ve been in the locker room after a game it’s been exciting. It’s just tough because losing a game like that when it’s that close, it’s hard to handle.”

After taking a 6-3 halftime lead then giving it away with two field goals in the third quarter, Beathard opened the fourth with a perfect 85-yard TD pass to Tevaun Smith to make it 13-9. But for all of the talk about the league’s two best quarterbacks going head-to-head, this game ended with a decidedly old-school flavor. Scott ran 22 times for 73 yards against a stingy defense that stopped Michigan State on four consecutive snaps inside the Iowa 5 in the final two minutes. On the fifth try, Scott stood up, spun away and finally put away the Hawkeyes. Dantonio went on to mention “He’s a load. I felt like if he found a crease he’d get more, as it got down inside the 10-yard line, pound it, take the game and the clock, which I think is a big thing. We got the game and the clock. We did it slowly and methodically.”

Posted in CFB