Isn’t it a bummer when a marquee matchup loses most of its luster? That is the case with Game 667/668 on Thursday night between the Michigan State Spartans and Seton Hall Pirates. Seton Hall star Myles Powell is out indefinitely with a badly sprained ankle, so one of the Player of the Year candidates in this game will be on the sidelines. As a result, Michigan State is -6.5 and as high as -7 for this visit to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
The total of 141.5 has come down 1.5 points from 143, which could be a byproduct of Powell’s injury. It is more likely a byproduct of how well unders have done so far this season with the new rules and the pushback of the three-point line.
This line opened -6 and got bet up to -6.5 across most of the market. It is harder than usual to accurately rate the loss of a guy like Powell because it is so early in the season that we don’t have many data points on the Pirates. What Powell’s supporting cast looks like now is a lot different from what it could look like later in the season.
Injuries are a bummer, but they are not a matter of life and death. The tragic passing of Zachary Winston, the brother of Michigan State standout Cassius Winston, cast a very dark cloud over Sparty’s game against Binghamton on Sunday. It shook the program and head coach Tom Izzo to the core. Winston had 17 points and 11 assists in the game dedicated to his brother in just 26 minutes.
Considering these emotional appeals in a handicapping context sometimes seems callous and misguided, but our job on this website is to analyze things from a sports betting perspective, so we try to look as delicately as possible. Things like this can really bring a team together and provide an even greater closeness and sense of brotherhood.
You won’t find a tighter team than Michigan State right now. With upcoming non-conference games against Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, and Duke, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Michigan State sweep the board. When an injury occurs, like what the Pirates are dealing with, teams rally and usually step up for a game or two. When a brother is hurting, there is a longer-term sense of continuity and support. This is not a Michigan State team that I would want to bet against anytime soon.
Binghamton was overwhelmed from the opening tip in the 53-point loss, in which MSU had 1.396 points per possession and Binghamton only had .656, including a 9-for-30 mark from two-point range. It was a strong bounce back effort following the loss to Kentucky, albeit, of course, against a far, far weaker foe. Bart Torvik has Binghamton ranked 348th out of 353 Division I teams.
So, this is a step up in class for Sparty, even with Powell out. The loss of Powell was evident in the win over Stony Brook. Seton Hall bucked down defensively, but was far less efficient on offense. The Seawolves are a lot better than Wagner, but Seton Hall went from a 69.2% effective field goal percentage to a 49.2% eFG% in the second game. The two-point performance went from 28-for-36 to 21-for-46.
Powell’s Usage% was 29.5% last season. Among players that played at least 60% of the minutes, that was far and away the highest. Everything goes through Powell. In the Stony Brook win, Seton Hall’s usage was balanced. Sandro Mamukelashvili stepped up the most with 17 points in 34 minutes, but he had turnover problems. Quincy McKnight was only 5-of-14 from the floor with 14 points.
With Powell out, it looks like Shavar Reynolds Jr. will get some more time. He had four assists and nine points in 28 minutes. The Stony Brook game gave coach Kevin Willard a chance to see if he could figure something out before the big game against Michigan State. What he found was an inefficient shooting performance. Stony Brook also had nine blocks in the game. As far as players that a team can ill-afford to lose, Powell is up near the top of the list.
With a renewed sense of purpose, it would be Michigan State or nothing here. Seton Hall will have players that attempt to make up for the loss of Powell, but there really is no way to make up for a player like him. Sparty is well-equipped for a matchup of this magnitude and would have been even going up against Powell.
As far as the total goes, Seton Hall played a lot slower in Game 1 than Game 2. The first game was played to 80 possessions. The second game was played to 67 possessions. Wagner was 331st in the country in adjusted tempo last season. Stony Brook is now under Geno Ford, who didn’t run much at Bradley after his first year. Seton Hall dictated the tempo in both games. Therefore, the under is my favorite play in this one. Seton Hall will rally defensively. The lack of a shot creator on offense is why Michigan State should win and cover.
Pick: Under 141.5
Lean: Michigan State -6.5