When putting in your bet for Friday night's game between Miami and Michigan State there's probably one word that determined your pick – Izzo. It's true that Mr March lives for this time of year with 2 Final Four's, an Elite 8, and 2 Sweet 16 berths over a 6-season stretch from 2010 to 2015. Something that should be fresh on bettors' mind, however, is last year's 1st round loss to Middle Tennessee State when the Spartans were a 2 seed.
You've got to take a real look at Miami in this one. The playoffs have proven to be Hurricane season lately as they made the Sweet 16 a year ago (and in 2013) and advanced to the NIT Final a year ago. Do they have enough to overcome Izzo though?
It was an admitted down year for Michigan State. They posted their fewest wins in a season since 2011 with just a 19-14 record. The Spartans aren't exactly surging as they head towards tourney season either having lost 4 of 5. The MSU season has been plagued by poor shooting (46.8%) but good defence (40.8% OFG) which is why the total of 125.5 is the lowest of the 1st round.
Miami finds themselves favoured in this matchup by -2.5 points. They had a successful 21-11 season but have had their share of struggles down the stretch losing 3 of 4. They too have one of the better defences in college basketball allowing only 63.7 PPG – the thing is they only score 69.4 and shot only 45.3% from the field.
A total this low combined with the electricity of a tournament atmosphere makes the Over 125.5 an appealing pick. Then again Miami has scored in the 50's in 4 of their last 6 games and MSU has only broken 61 in 1 of their last 4.
Therefore the side needs to be the pick in this game. Miami sure looks like a trap as the -2.5 favourite but 56% of the betting public is on their side. The game is being played in Tulsa so no team really has a huge advantage in travel. Miami has proven they are able to make a run in a playoff setting, but how can Izzo really lose in Round 1 of the tournament in consecutive years? Michigan State is the pick.