A good one is on tap in East Lansing. #17 Michigan State is limping into their friendly confines to battle up-and-down Indiana. The Spartans, still just a game back in the loss column of the top spot in the Big Ten standings, are a four-point favorite.
The Spartans had really heated up just prior to this two-game skid. From the beginning of December they were 12-2 until seven days ago including a nine-game winning run that started the run but in the last month are 3-3. They've looked sluggish, lethargic and overall blasé in their two most recent games, especially against Rutgers (a road loss). This team needs something, a jolt and maybe a home Saturday afternoon prime TV slot will reinvigorate the squad.
Indiana is on the struggle bus too, coming off a terrible loss to Northwestern on the road. All of that can be explained away by the suspension of five players for that game, including two starters. They still led at the half but eventually a very short bench got the better of them. They struggle mightily on the road too, grabbing just two... TWO road wins this entire season (@ not good Nebraska and @ not good Maryland).
Both teams are above average in covering the spread (Indiana 56.5%, State 54.3%) but Michigan State is just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as the favorite and 1-4 ATS in their last five at home. That's troubling. Indiana is 1-5 ATS in road games inside the Big Ten. Hey look, another troubling sign. Statistically speaking, these two teams are mirrors. Indiana allows fewer pointers per game (63.3 to 66.5), is better at defending shots (37.3% to 40.6%), but Michigan State is better at defending the three (30.0% to 30.7%). Offensively is much of the same, too close to call.
Still, I love games like this for home teams. You'd have to be really, really good (or the other team be awful) for me to side with the road team in this scenario. Indiana has had great moments they are just too inconsistent to trust today, those wonky Saturday games. Give me Sparty -4.