Michigan State vs UCLA Prediction: We’re not completely sure UCLA is the team to put a dent in the Big Ten’s reputation (deserved or not…more in a moment). After all, being one of the best 30-minute teams in college hoops is a hollow honor when the games are 40 minutes long, and the Bruins have conspired to blow their last four games, usually due to late collapses. In recent grating losses, such as the reg.-season-ender vs. USC and in the Pac-12 Tourney vs. Oregon State, depth issues have cost Mick Cronin; minus Chris Smith and Jalen Hill, UCLA’s bench is thin. But there are some questions about the Big Ten that we suppose will be answered in the Dance. While most seem to believe it was the best conference in the country, non-league results are hardly conclusive; indeed, the loop’s best win into the Dance is probably Wisconsin over Loyola-Chicago, one of only two currently-ranked teams (Virginia Tech, a loser to Penn State, the other) from the outside to have lost vs. the Big Ten. MSU’s non-conference victim’s list is highlighted by wins over perhaps the worst Duke and Notre Dame entries in a generation…that’s it. True, Tom Izzo’s team rallied late in the season, but most of its key wins came in East Lansing at the Breslin Center; on the Big Ten trail, MSU only beat lowly Nebraska and disappointing Indiana. This MSU edition does not have the perimeter scoring featured by Izzo’s better teams, with Joshua Langford never quite recovering from injuries that kept him out most of the past two seasons, and the contributions of Marquette transfer Joey Hauser (9.7 ppg) have been modest at best. Meanwhile, soph G Rocket Watts continues to battle inconsistency. Rugged edge perhaps to Spartans with battering ram F Aaron Henry (15.3 ppg), who has become Izzo’s go-to scoring threat. But Bruins still have a higher ceiling on nights when Kentucky transfer wing Johnny Juzang (four games of 25 points or more since midseason) shows up, and soph PG Tyger Campbell can adjust the pace as Cronin prefers. Beating this non-vintage MSU team would hardly be a surprise.
Michigan State vs UCLA Prediction Odds:
Pts. Diff. (H/A)
Avg. Line (H/A)
|UCLA||65||135||13||10||15||12-2 / 5-7||9-5 / 3-9||7-7 / 7-5||+10.4 / -2.3||-8 / -2|
|Michigan State||62||-2||12 (2)||-3||10||10||11-3 / 3-9||6-9 / 3-9||5-10 / 4-8||+4.9 / -10.8||-8 / +3|
Michigan State vs UCLA Prediction Pick: UCLA
The NCAA Tournament is one of the most-bet events on the sports calendar. That influx of public money can create some interesting opportunities to “fade the public” during March Madness. WagerTalk handicapper Steve Merril offers his thoughts on a handful of Opening Round matchups where the money and ticket count are flowing to one side. This weekend’s featured games: Rutgers vs Clemson Ohio State vs Oral Roberts Villanova vs Winthrop Arkansas vs Colgate.