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November 23, 2016

There is one college basketball pick tonight.

Take St. John's +7 spread against Michigan State for 3% of the bankroll.

This is a matchup that we absolutely love. Perception and history are undoubtedly going to play a factor in this matchup as Michigan State is one of the more popular and storied programs in College basketball. The betting public loves to back Michigan State simply based on their heritage and unquestionable success year after year. On the other side of the floor, you have the St John's Red Storm; a team that went 1-17 in conference play last season. St Johns was (arguably) one of the worst teams in the country a season ago and there is no question that the betting public remembers that and assumes that they will have similar struggles this season. That is where we believe they will be mistaken. 

St. John’s is a young team this season. They have 5 players who are getting court time for the very first time this year and it's because of those young players as to why St. John’s is 2-1 (could arguably be 3-0) on the year. The young talent on this team has produced a spark that was lacking a season ago and for only being 3 games into the season, they have already developed unquestioned chemistry among them. At this point in the season, this St. John's team boasts the second-highest scoring average in the Big East at 87.7 points per game. They are draining 11 three-pointers per contest and shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc. Freshmen Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, who make up the Red Storm’s back-court, currently stand as the highest-scoring teammates in the Big East with a combined 41.6 points per game. Lovett is the conference’s leading scorer at 24.3 points per game. He poured in 31 points against Minnesota last Friday while Ponds has delivered 20 points in each of the last two games. Michigan State is going to have their hands full with these two freshmen.

While St. John's has seemingly been firing on all cylinders, Michigan State has struggled much more than many had expected to start the season. This is a team that has struggled both on offense and on defense. They dropped their opening contest against Arizona in Hawaii and just narrowly scraped past Florida Gulf Coast by a single point in their last contest. They have been heavily reliant on the 3-ball this season, which is fine if they happen to be falling, however against a Red Storm team that has shown their ability to close on the shooter and contest shots, that could be a disaster for Michigan State if their shots simply aren't falling.

Free throw shooting has also been an area that has plagued the Spartans this season. It hasn't only been their ability to get to the charity stripe that has been troubling, but when they have gotten there, they haven't been very good. They have only taken 61 attempts at the line this season and have made just 33 of those shots. It's widely known that the outcome of games (and whether teams cover the spread) often come down to which teams can make their free throws at the end. With Michigan State struggling form the line and them being a significant favorite in this contest, it may be hard for them to hold onto their lead, or prevent St. John's from closing the gap and getting a backdoor cover.

Neutral site contests have not been good to Michigan State thus far this season and they appear to be a team that is still trying to find their groove; their chemistry is definitely off at the moment. St. John's on the other hand appear to be in mid-season form. With Michigan State being such a big-named opponent, we expect this young team to come into this contest extremely motivated as this matchup could set the tone for the remainder of the season for this young team and would be a huge confidence builder should they happen to win this game. The Red Storm have certainly proved that they have talent and we expect they will give this Spartan's team all they can handle in this contest and potentially challenge for the outright victory. Even if St. John's fall short of the outright, they should remain competitive enough to stay within this generous number.

Other notable trends to consider:

  • Michigan State is 0-5 ATS in their last five at neutral site games.
  • Michigan State is 1-6 ATS in their last seven against the Big East.
  • Michigan State is 0-5 ATS in their last five non-conference matchups.
  • Michigan State is 0-4 ATS in their last four following a win.

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