Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick

March Madness Picks

March Madness Picks


#14 Valparaiso Crusaders
#3 Michigan State Spartans

Date/Time: Thursday March 21, 12:15 pm EST

Television: CBS

College Basketball Odds from Bookmaker

Point Spread: Michigan State -10.5

Total: 126.5


Basketball Betting Game Trends

Valparaiso Crusaders

  • Valparaiso is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss
  • Valparaiso is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games
  • Valparaiso is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
  • Under is 6-0 in Crusaders last 6 non-conference games
  • Under is 4-1 in Crusaders last 5 overall
  • Under is 4-1 in Crusaders last 5 games following a S.U. win

Michigan State Spartans

  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Michigan State’s last 6 games
  • Michigan State is 2-5-1 ATS in its last 8 games
  • Michigan State is 19-6 SU in its last 25 games
  • Under is 5-0 in Michigan State last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
  • Under is 6-0 in Michigan State last 6 games following a ATS loss
  • Under is 5-1 in Michigan State last 6 overall


March Madness tips off in earnest early Thursday afternoon with the Michigan State Spartans taking on the Valparaiso Crusaders. This is the game that gets the entire tournament underway. Can we expect a good battle or will the first game be a snoozer? Let’s take a closer look at this matchup of two teams from the Midwest.

Game Overview:

Valparaiso has the most experienced team in college basketball this year. The Crusaders were beaten by Detroit in the Horizon League Tournament last year and denied a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, but this veteran group will get a chance to make some history with former March Madness star Bryce Drew as their coach. All five starters on this Valparaiso team are seniors. All of these guys have been productive players in their careers at the school, and they know this is their last chance to make a mark on the college basketball world with a big upset in March.

Ryan Broekhoff is a 6’7 forward from Australia who leads the Crusaders in scoring with 15.9 points per game. Broekhoff can score in the low post, but he is more comfortable shooting from outside. He shots 43.2% from three-point range. Valparaiso has been a very good shooting team all season, but the Crusaders have struggled with turnovers against top opponents. They’ll have to take care of the ball in this one if they want to have a chance against the Spartans. Kevin Van Wijk will have his hands full down low, and he has to stay out of foul trouble.

Michigan State seems to always peak at the right time of the year under Coach Tom Izzo. Izzo has been able to get this program to the Final Four six times in the past 14 years. The recipe is pretty much the same every year. The Spartans win games by being very physical on the inside and winning the battle on the boards nearly every game. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix are as physical as any two big men you’ll see in the NCAA Tournament this year. Payne is a versatile player who can step out and shoot it, while Nix is solely a low post threat who uses his muscle to get opponents out of the way.

Keith Appling leads the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game while Gary Harris averages 12.9 points per game. Harris’ play as a freshman has really helped this team take the next step as the season has progressed. Michigan State’s biggest problem on offense has been their carelessness at times. The Spartans have to take care of the ball if they are going to make a run in the difficult Midwest Region.


This one gets the action going on Thursday, and I think the underdog can hang around pretty well here. The veteran group from Valparaiso should be able to cover this double digit spread.

Michigan State 68 Valparaiso 60

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Kyle Hunter

is full-timesports writer and sports handicapper. You simply won’t find someone who loves sports more than Kyle. Kyle considers college football and college basketball his two favorite sports. Kyle has earned many accolades for his highly successful handicapping, and he writes full-time for many top sports websites. Keep an eye out for high quality free sports analysis from Kyle!

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