Michigan State vs Southern California March Madness Betting Preview: Spartans Slight Fave

Trojans, Spartans Try to Rebound From Early Conference Tourney Exits

Senior Guards Lead the Way in Michigan State-USC First Round Showdown

This is not exactly a showdown of teams peaking for a March Madness run. Michigan State fell to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament while Southern California lost to Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12. The teams were a combined 8-15 in Quad 1 games this season. The Michigan State vs Southern California March Madness betting preview lists the Spartans as the slight favorite.

USC is 5-4 over its last nine games with a loss against 11th-place Oregon State. Michigan State had a strong finish to the season, going 5-2 in the final seven games in the regular season with the highlight being a win over Indiana.

The teams have almost identical numbers in the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. Michigan State is 41st in adjustment offensive efficiency and 40th defensively. USC checks in at 43rd on offense and 48th on defense.

MSU Michigan State: Back in the Big Dance

There was a time when it looked like Michigan State was in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997 (not counting 2020 when there was no tournament held).

There were questions about how Michigan State would respond when the Spartans returned to the court after an on-campus shooting that claimed the lives of three students. They have played well enough to be favored when it comes to the Michigan State vs Southern California March Madness betting preview.

The Spartans have covered in just four of its last 12 games.

How They Got Here

Joey Hauser had 20 points and fellow senior Tyson Walker added 17 as Michigan State shook off back-to-back losses with a key win against Maryland. That got things turned around as Michigan State had a strong finish to the NCAAB regular season.

Walker has started 59 of 67 games in his two seasons after transferring in from Northeastern while Hauser has started 67 times over the last three seasons.

With three seniors and two juniors among the top six scorers, there is plenty of experience and that matters at this time of the year.

Michigan State began the season by falling by a point to Gonzaga and beating Kentucky in overtime as there are some results against teams that came into the season expected to be among the best college basketball teams.

How Far Will They Go

If Michigan State gets by USC, second-seeded Marquette could be waiting in the second round and that is not going to be an easy matchup as Marquette is among the top 10 teams among the favorites to win March Madness.

Veteran coach Tom Izzo is 53-23 in NCAA tournament play for a reason so it hard to count his teams out.

USC: Getting A Second Chance

Suggesting that the Trojans were on the March Madness bubble after falling to Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament would be quite the understatement. Now they are a slight underdog when it comes to the Michigan State vs Southern California March Madness betting preview.

USC did post some wins over ranked teams and that included one against UCLA, the body of work had the Trojans as one of the last at-large teams to make the field.

The good news is guard play is crucial at this time of the year and USC has a good one in Boogie Ellis. Ellis averaged 22.7 points against ranked teams during the regular season and in USC’s last two games against ranked foes, he had 35 points against Arizona and 31 versus UCLA.

Ellis can’t do it alone. The only other double-digit scorer is Drew Peterson and 7 of 31 from the field over the last three games. Sophomore Reese Dixon-Waters is back after missing some time last month.

The total has gone over in five of USC’s last seven games.

How They Got Here

USC has a couple of four-game winning streaks in conference play. A win over UCLA and a near upset of the Bruins in the other meeting helped the Trojans secure the program’s fifth NCAA tournament appearance since 2016.

The most noteworthy non-conference win might be against America East champion Vermont and that is not a ringing endorsement.

How Far Will They Go

Andy Enfield is 5-4 in the NCAA tournament since taking over at USC and Michigan State is far from an unbeatable opponent.

The reality is that other than a win over UCLA, there is little about this team that answers how they got into the NCAA tournament.

USC is 50th in the NCAA NET rankings with the 77th best strength of schedule. That being said, this is a perfect chance to prove to the nation that there is more to the Pac-12 than just UCLA and Arizona.

A potential meeting with Marquette would be interesting if the Trojans get by Michigan State.

Handicapping the Game

Veteran guards tend to thrive at this time of the year and both teams have good ones.

USC is 6-5 in games decided by six points or less with Michigan State going 7-4 in those contests, so both of these teams have experience in tight affairs.

The teams haven’t played since 2009 so there is little in the way of past history to help figure things out in this matchup.

Michigan State won its only game against a Pac-12 team with a four-win over Oregon in November. USC fell to Wisconsin in its only meeting with a Big Ten squad this season.

Keep an eye on 7-foot-1 freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu. USC is 10-4 when he suits up. However, he is questionable due to a back issue. He has missed the Trojans’ last two games.

The line opened with Michigan State favored by 1.5 points and is now at 2. Perhaps it will change again before the Friday afternoon tip.

Michigan State should be more at ease with a 12:15 start than USC since it will be 9:15 in the morning when that game gets going. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

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