- Iowa Hawkeyes vie for fifth straight win vs the visiting Michigan State Spartans on Thursday night
- Michigan State will be without at least two players vs Iowa following an outbreak of COVID-19
- We’ve got you covered with the odds and trends ahead of this Big Ten conference matchup
The Iowa Hawkeyes aim top continue their steady rise up the AP Top 25 national rankings when they host the faltering Michigan State Spartans on Thursday night as lofty 9.5-point favorites.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a decisive 86-71 win over Minnesota this past weekend to solidify their grasp on the No. 5 spot in the national rankings. The Spartans saw a modest two-game win streak halted with a 55-54 home loss to Purdue last time out, and saw their recent struggles complicated by the loss of two players, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.
Here’s a look at the odds and trends ahead of Thursday night’s matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Michigan State Spartans vs Iowa Hawkeyes Odds
|Michigan State Spartans||+9.5 (-120)||+370||O 158.5 (-114)|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||-9.5 (-102)||-480||U 158.5 (-106)|
*Odds taken at FanDuel on 01/13/2021.
Spartans Struggle to Shake Rough Start
It has been a brutal start to conference play for the Spartans, who have claimed at least a share of top spot in the Big Ten regular season standings in each of the past three seasons. Winners in each of their first six outings, Michigan State has struggled against conference rivals. The squad squandered a 15-point halftime lead in last Friday’s loss to the Boilermakers as 6-point home chalk, and have now failed to cover in seven of eight outings, all while favored.
The Purdue Boilermakers pull off the upset against the Michigan State Spartans. @BoilerBall pic.twitter.com/d07KbIzSRO
— Purdue On BTN (@PurdueOnBTN) January 9, 2021
Scoring has emerged as a major concern. The Spartans have averaged a meagre 63.3 points per game during their current 2-4 slide, and have scored 56 or fewer points in two of their past four contests, including a recent 81-56 loss to the Golden Gophers in which they shot just 25.7% from the field.
COVID-19 Could Postponement Game
Making matters worse are the reports Wednesday afternoon indicating freshman Mady Sissoko and sophomore Steven Izzo have tested positive for COVID-19, ruling the pair out of team activities for 17 days, including Thursday’s date with the Hawkeyes.
Tom Izzo opens his press conference, pre Iowa, by announcing Mady Sissoko and Steven Izzo have tested positive for COVID-19.
They are roommates. Everyone else is OK at the moment.
— Audrey Dahlgren (@AudreyDahlgren) January 13, 2021
Both Sissoko and Izzo have seen limited game action this season, although Sissoko has shown flashes of his defensive presence with an increasing role off the bench in recent outings. However, the positive cases do put the game at risk of postponement.
The Hawkeyes are likely happy to play on Thursday as they pursue a fifth straight win. Iowa avenged a tough Christmas Day loss to Minnesota with a last weekend’s win over the Golden Gophers to improve to 11-2 overall on the season.
That one felt good. #Hawkeyes | #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/aKp9TJRkkG
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 10, 2021
Iowa has struggled to consistently reward loyal sports bettors in recent weeks, going 4-3 ATS in their past seven. However, the Hawkeyes have produced steady results while pegged as big favorites, going 12-0 SU and 10-2 ATS in their past 12 while favored by nine or more points.
Iowa Defense Standing Tall
In addition to reclaiming the No. 5 spot in the national rankings, the Hawkeyes are also a steady presence at the top of the Kenpom ratings, where they sit No. 3 overall, and trail only Gonzaga in adjusted offensive efficiency. However, the Iowa defense has limited opponents to just 71.2 points per game during the team’s 4-0 run, powering a 4-2 run for the UNDER in totals betting.
MBB – 1H END
Iowa 44 – Maryland 26
The #Hawkeyes forgot to play defense early, fell 10 behind. Then they caught fire, went on a 30-5 scoring spree – and dominated the last 12 minutes of the Half on the road.
The Halftime Stats from the the Xfinity Center… pic.twitter.com/h3wEp6j4ZP
— Hawkeyes Mic (@HawkeyesMic) January 8, 2021
Now on a roll on the scoreboard and at the sportsbooks, Iowa is well positioned to end a five-game losing streak against the Spartans, and also claim their first home victory over Michigan State since 2015.
The Picks: Hawkeyes -9.5 (-102); UNDER 158.5 (-106)