Dec 29 NCAAB Action: Michigan State Spartans @ Iowa Hawkeyes
Michigan State Spartans +3 (-104) @ Iowa Hawkeyes Carver–Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa December 29, 2015 8:00PM CST
Our multi-factor simulation and power rankings routine calls for the Spartans to cover at the Hawkeyes this evening. In fact, our inputs lines are somewhat split, with two factors on our roster of indicators forecasting Iowa to just hold off Michigan State for the home win, and the remaining three lines calling for the upset win for the Spartans. Make no mistake though, all measures support the road cover. Accordingly, we are taking the points and backing the top-rated (per Jeff Sagarin's Golden Mean hierarchy) team in Men's Division I College Basketball.
Though a perfect 13-0 straight up, the Spartans are a mortal 8-5 versus the number this season after losing to Oakland against the spread a week ago. Beofre today, Michigan State has been cast as the underdog only once this season (Kansas was favored by 4 in the Champions Classic in Chicago last month). The Spartans both covered and won by five in that contest.
The Hawkeyes are 9-3 in absolute terms and 5-5 against the spread following a home cover versus Tennessee Tech a week ago.
Since 2010, these teams have met on 12 occasions. Michigan State is 8-4 in the head-to-head series over this timeframe. This set includes a 4-1 run for the Spartans playing in Hawkeyes territory, as well as covers in the each of last four contests.
We see no reason to expect Michigan State to end their cover streak versus Iowa this evening. #22 ranked Iowa is indeed an all-around good basketball team. The Hawkeyes rank in the top quintile in True Shooting Percentage, Opponents' True Shooting Percentage, Rebounds and Turnovers. However, the Hawkeyes will meet an elite team today, as Michigan State sorts in the top decile by various measures of shooting, defensive and rebounding prowess.
We indicated previously that Michigan State has been dominant, relative to the betting line, in Iowa's house in recent years. However, the Hawkeyes lackluster showing at home is not reserved for only the best teams. TeamRankings makes Iowa 248th by home advantage on the season (down a hair from 247th last year). We are struggling to justify why the inferior team, that does not fare particularly well at home, is installed as a three point favorite.
Bottom line: Given the unanimous signals from our primary approach, combined with supportive betting trends and favorable statistical backdrop for Michigan State, the Spartans +3 appears the obvious play.