The currently #16 Michigan State Spartans began the college basketball season as the nation’s top ranked team. They’ve since taken their lumps here and there, losing to Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Duke. The Spartans will head to Northwestern Wednesday night sporting a record of 7-3 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten conference play.
Although they’ll be heavy underdogs, perhaps the Wildcats are catching Michigan St. at the right time. Maybe better to get Sparty at home now in early Big Ten play, before Tom Izzo’s guys hit their stride in March, as they always do.
As it stands right now, the home team has won in every single Big Ten conference game thus far. Although that is likely to change tomorrow, given the two match-ups on the schedule, this trend is a perfect 11/11 right now. Something to factor in your bet calculator for this game Wednesday night, which will see a big money line and spread favoring MSU. According to the matchup predictor at ESPN.com, Michigan State has a 82.5% chance of winning to Northwestern’s 17.5%.
GAMER at RealTimeRPI.com projects an 81-71 win for the visitors, and a 20-11 final season record (12-8 in league play) for State.The projection sees the Spartans finishing with a RPI of 38 and a schedule strength of 41. As of now, their RPI is 21 and their SoS is 8. Turning to the hosts, they have one more tune-up against a low-major weakling, SIU-Edwardsville at home tomorrow. While on paper this looks like an easy, perhaps double digit victory, it hasn’t always been the case for the Wildcats.
They have already suffered home losses to Merrimack (RPI 153) and Radford (RPI 152), two results that shocked many. The Cats are currently 4-4, 0-1 in the Big Ten. They have a RPI of 209 and a SOS of 168.
Gamer sees NU as finishing the year with a 9-21 record, 3-17 in conference play, with a RPI of 213 and a SoS of 66. They have some decent wins, which sound good at first glance, over Bradley, Providence and Boston College. Unfortunately, their highest RPI win is only 96, and that’s BC. Of course, it was a win achieved with authority, on the road by 18 points.
In other words, Wednesday night provides a special opportunity for NU to get a signature win. From there, perhaps Chris Collins’ crew can start to build some kind of resume this season. As for Michigan State, their best RPI win is Rutgers; literally. It is worth noting though that the Scarlet Knights are much better this season than they have been in recent years.
Of course, it’s been a very lopsided series. Michigan State has won the last 10, 14 of the last 15 and 26 of the last 28. All time, they lead 91-31.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.