College basketball odds: Michigan State at Minnesota
Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State visits Minnesota on Monday afternoon in the conference opener for both schools – they are two of six ranked Big Ten clubs. Bet on the game at WagerWeb.com.
No. 19 MSU (11-2) has won six straight since a 67-59 loss at Miami (Fla.). Last time out the Spartans beat Texas 67-56. Senior big man Derrick Nix led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Nix was 7 for 10 from the field and 11 for 13 at the line, a major improvement for a 64.9 percent foul shooter.
Nix and I have a love-hate relationship; I love to hate him sometimes,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “He gets frustrated with himself sometimes, too. One of the hardest things to do is take criticism. But he has grown up a lot.”
Keith Appling had 14 points and Adreian Payne added 13 for the Spartans, who stayed perfect in six December games. Appling leads the team in averaging 14.9 points, while Nix leads in averaging 7.8 rebounds a game. As usual, the Spartans are among the nation’s best rebounding clubs. Michigan State returns four of its top six scorers and 10 of its top 13 scorers from last season. The Spartans return 58.6% of their minutes, 57.6% percent of their scoring, 51.7% of their rebounding, and 54.8% percent of their assists.
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State’s ﬁrst of 15 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 164 games against ranked opponents. That total ranks ﬁrst among teams that have appeared in a Final Four since then.
No. 11 Minnesota (12-1) has been a huge surprise. The Gophers have won eight straight since an 18-point loss to now top-ranked Duke in the Bahamas. Last time out, Minnesota routed Lafayette 75-50. Joe Coleman scored 12 points, and Minnesota got 42 points from its reserves. Oto Osenieks added 10 points for the Gophers.
“We’re definitely ready,” said Rodney Williams, Minnesota’s second-leading scorer (13.0 ppg), of starting conference play. “We’ve been waiting since summer workouts to get the Big Ten season started.”
In addition to Lafayette, the Gophers have beaten North Florida, South Dakota State, Southern Cal and North Dakota State in December by at least 13 points, while averaging a 20.8-point differential in the five contests.
Last season, Minnesota finished 6-12 in the Big Ten. The Gophers lost twice to Michigan State, 68-52 in East Lansing and 66-61 at home. The Spartans haven’t lost at Williams Arena in six years and Minnesota coach Tubby Smith is 1-11 against MSU overall.