College Basketball: Spartans and Badgers Battle in Primetime

Al Dannity | Updated Feb 16, 2012

It’s a big night in NCAA Basketball with four games featuring ranked teams. The headline match-up is in East Lansing where the Spartans host the Badgers. Al Dannity breaks down this Big Ten battle and the rest of Thursday’s big games.

It beginning to look a lot like Sparty Starting 0-2 against Duke and UNC was to be expected but did anyone really think the #7 Spartans looked capable of being another vintage Tom Izzo team? Whatever about the doubts of College Basketball betting fans, there’s no questioning the quality of this team now. Michigan State began the year as Draymond Green and a bunch of other guys but they have evolved into a serious NCAA Tournament contender. It’s classic Izzo. The Spartans have an iron-clad defense and a heavy emphasis on player rotation. It’s a style popular in Europe but not so much on this side of the pond. The Izzo way has however delivered 6 Final Fours in his 17 seasons. We’re due another deep run by Sparty in March.

Not that Bo Ryan’s #15 Wisconsin should be discounted. While the Badgers lean too much on Jordan Taylor offensively, they are amongst one of the top defensive teams in the nation. There always seems to be a ceiling with the Badgers. They don’t recruit the kind of athletes likely to bring about a Final Four appearance, although that hasn’t stopped Butler the past two seasons. For the Badgers to be a threat in the Big Dance, they need to show they can get the job done in hostile environs like East Lansing. A win here would be a huge mental boost entering March Madness. That win may yet come but I don’t like Bucky Badger tonight. I like the Spartans to take the win at home.

Looking elsewhere Virginia Tech’s climb to relevance on Selection Sunday looks steeper than usual this year. At 3-7 in conference play and without a quality win, they are on their last legs for a shot at an at-large bid. Tonight however the Hokies can claim some redemption if they shock #20 Florida State on the road. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, the Seminoles are playing like legitimate contenders for the ACC title right now. I like FSU to complete the season sweep.

NC State begins a brutal three game stretch against ranked opponents with a trip to #5 Duke tonight. The Blue Devils have dropped two at home in ACC play but are back on top form after winning at UNC and dominating Maryland in Cameron. I like Duke tonight.

Finally #24 Gonzaga travels to Santa Clara. The Zags looked particularly impressive against St Mary’s last week and followed that up with an equally dominant display against Loyola Marymount. The Broncos are 0-12 in WCC play and I expect them to drop to 0-13 tonight with room to spare.

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