Michigan State and Iowa are both safely in the March Madness field entering their final five Big Ten games of the season. But even if they have more security than many teams–barring an unexpected collapse, of course–attaining the best seed possible is important, so tonight’s matchup in Iowa City is certainly pivotal, especially with the two teams in differing form at the moment.
At the midway point of the Big Ten campaign, Michigan State looked to be in the mix for the Big Ten title along with the likes of Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin. However, the Spartans enter their visit to Carver-Hawkeye Arena with four losses in their past five games and are out of the Big Ten title picture and the top 25 of this week’s AP poll.
Iowa, meanwhile, had an up-and-down start to their conference slate, and after a double-overtime loss at Penn State on January 31, sat at 4-6 in Big Ten play. Since then, Iowa has won four of five, and Saturday’s 13-point road upset of Ohio State has the Hawkeyes in the AP top 25 for the first time all season.
Iowa forward Keegan Murray (23.4 PPG/8.2 RPG), the fourth-leading scorer in college basketball, continued a recent strong stretch in the win in Columbus. Murray, who has +750 odds to win the Wooden Award (at FanDuel Sportsbook), torched the Buckeyes for 24 points. It was his fifth straight game with at least 23 points and his 16th this season.
Will Murray and the Hawkeyes keep the positive momentum going tonight against the sliding Spartans? Or will Michigan State halt their skid with a big road win?
Michigan State vs. Iowa College Basketball Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: Michigan State Spartans (18-8, 9-6 Big Ten, 6th in the Big Ten, #24 in Coaches Poll) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (18-8, 8-7 Big Ten, 8th in Big Ten, #25 in AP Poll)
- Venue & Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, Iowa)
- Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022
- Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Spread: Michigan State +6.5 (-110), Iowa -6.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 153.5 (-110), UNDER 153.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Michigan State +220, Iowa -275
Odds are via BetMGM.
Can Inconsistent Spartans Score Enough to Keep Up with Hot Hawkeyes?
Thanks to their bad patch, Michigan State’s March Madness bracket projections have taken a hit. Entering today, the Spartans have dropped from to the five-seed line at ESPN and the six-seed line at CBS.
They are destined to fall even more if they struggle to navigate their upcoming stretch of games.
Final Five Regular Season Games for Michigan State
- at #25 AP Iowa (18-8, 8-7 Big Ten)
- vs. #4/#7 Purdue (24-4, 13-4 Big Ten)
- at Michigan (14-11, 8-7 Big Ten)
- at #22/#19 Ohio State (17-7, 10-5 Big Ten)
- vs. Maryland (13-14, 5-11 Big Ten)
With a tough schedule and wins over UConn, Loyola-Chicago, and Wisconsin (in Madison), the Spartans are well-positioned to (almost certainly) still be in the NCAA Tournament field even if their current struggles extend through their upcoming four-game stretch. But a 1-4 finish is a realistic possibility, and that would send them into the Big Ten tournament needing to perform well to secure a single-digit seed.
So, what is to blame for the Spartans’ recent woes?
Simply put, they are not scoring consistently.
After a three-game non-conference stretch against Loyola, UConn, and Baylor–in which they scored 63, 64, and 58 points against three of the better defensive teams in the country–Michigan State went on a nine-game winning streak in which they scored at least 71 points in each game.
At that point, Tom Izzo’s team was 14-2 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. They were ranked in the top ten and eyeing a top-two March Madness seed.
Then came a shocking home loss against Northwestern, which kickstarted their run of inconsistency.
Michigan State’s Yo-Yo Scoring Over Their Past Ten Games
- vs. Northwestern: lost 64-62
- at Wisconsin: won 86-74
- at Illinois: lost 56-55
- vs. Michigan: won 83-67
- at Maryland: won 65-63
- at Rutgers: lost 84-63
- vs. Wisconsin: lost 70-62
- vs. Indiana: won 76-61
- at Penn State: lost 62-58
- vs. Illinois: lost 79-74
Saturday’s loss to Illinois was actually an outlier for the Spartans. Thus far this season, the only other game in which they scored 70+ points but didn’t win was their season opener against Kansas, an 87-74 loss. When they have hit the 70-point mark this season, they are 15-2. So, when they hit that number, they are more than likely going to win.
Michigan State had only one double-digit scorer last season in Aaron Henry, and they have only one this season in forward Gabe Brown. That in itself isn’t necessarily glaring, as the fact that they have eight players averaging at least 6.3 PPG highlights some serious depth.
But when they also can’t count on always shutting down the opposition, this trend of on-off, on-off, on-off can’t continue if they are to stop their seeding slide.
Brown turning it around is a good place to start. His past four games have been rough, to say the least.
Past Four Games for Michigan State’s Gabe Brown
- vs. Wisconsin: seven points, 2-5 FG, 1-3 3PT
- vs. Indiana: zero points, 0-4 FG, 0-3 3PT
- at Penn State: seven points, 2-8 FG, 1-5 3PT
- vs. Illinois: five points, 2-8 FG, 1-5 3PT
During Saturday’s game against Illinois, ESPN’s Jay Williams chastised Brown for dancing prior to the game. His words were intended to note the need for Brown, a senior and team captain, and the Spartans to have more urgency, given their recent struggles, but it was all a bit over the top.
However, Brown does need to find his shot down the stretch for Michigan State to have its best chance to make some noise in March.
Also, perimeter shooting is another great place to start. The Spartans average only around 19 three-point attempts per game, which is one of the lower totals nationally. But they are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, ranking 13th at 38.3 percent.
But since making 11 of 24 from outside in their loss at Rutgers, the Spartans have shot only 32.4 percent (23 of 71) from three over their past four games. That’s not going to get the job done tonight against one of the highest-scoring teams in college basketball.
Michigan State vs. Iowa Basketball Prediction and Pick
Iowa 82, Michigan State 75 (OVER 153.5)
The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the nation in scoring at 83.5 points per game, but they used one of their best defensive efforts of the season to shut down E.J. Liddell and Ohio State in Saturday’s 75-62 win in Columbus. After taking a 39-38 lead into halftime, the Hawkeyes held the Buckeyes to only 24 points in the second half.
Holding Ohio State to their third-lowest output of the season is an extremely impressive result that shows what this team could do in March if it all clicks on both ends.
That said, there have been only three stretches this season in which the Hawkeyes held consecutive opponents under 70 points, and there has been only one stretch in which they failed to hit the 80-point mark for three straight games.
So, that points to Iowa more than likely getting to at least 80 and Michigan State getting to at least 70. So do the over/under trends for this season.
2021-22 Over/Under Trends for Iowa and Michigan State
- The over is 15-5-1 when Iowa has been a favorite.
- In games following an Iowa win, the over is 13-3-1.
- In Iowa’s home games, the over is 12-3-1.
- When Iowa has been a home favorite, the over is 11-3-1.
- In Iowa’s Big Ten games, the over is 10-5-0.
- Overall, the over is 18-7-1 in Iowa’s 26 games this season, which makes them one of the nation’s best over teams. Only Bowling Green and Manhattan have a higher percentage of overs.
- In Michigan State’s Big Ten games, the over is 9-6-0.
In their previous home game, Iowa suffered a surprising 84-79 loss to Michigan this past Thursday, as they rallied from 12 down with 3:25 left but missed a game-tying three in the waning moments.
You have to go back to the 2017-18 season–which was a 14-19 season for Iowa–for the last time that the Hawkeyes lost consecutive home games. Look for them to follow up Saturday’s big win in Columbus with a win over the Spartans, who will go down in defeat for the fifth time in six games.