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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Hey…the Big 10 and ESPN were really on the ball here, arranging for one of the most important games of the college basketball season to be scheduled for the night after the BCS championship game! It’s #3 Ohio State visiting #5 Michigan State in a game that will give you an immediate thrill on the road to March Madness!

Like most Las Vegas sports bettors, you’ve probably been focused very intently on college and pro football in recent days. Let’s get you caught up on the Buckeyes and Spartans with pointspread results and data from publicly available stats sites. You regulars know we respect the numbers from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy, and longtime USA Today contributor Jeff Sagarin. This brief study should get everyone up to speed.

 

Against the Spread

Ohio State: 8-6

Michigan State: 7-4-2

Both teams were well-respected entering the season, yet both are making money anyway to this point. You often hear that you can’t make money betting high profile teams. That’s true in many cases. But, oddsmakers often underestimate the quality and consistency of powers. That’s true so far here, as OSU and MSU are a combined 60% winners.

 

Computer Rankings

Ohio State: #1 in Pomeroy, #2 in Sagarin

Michigan State: #5 in Pomeroy, #3 in Sagarin

Wow…this is an ever better game than the media rankings were suggesting! Sagarin has these as two of the top three teams. Pomeroy has Ohio State as the current best team in the country. So…in computer terms…we’re seeing the #1 team in the country facing one of its toughest tests all season!

 

Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)

Ohio State: #55

Michigan State: #27

The scale is over 300 teams…so those are both fine gradings in the big picture. Once you start talking about elite teams though, Ohio State is clearly having problems on offense. You can deduce poor shooting and ball handling skills from a ranking like that. They must be doing something else right to rank so high in the computers!

 

Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)

Ohio State: #1

Michigan State: #10

They are! Ohio State is ranked #1 in the nation defensively according to Pomeroy’s approach that adjusts for tempo and the caliber of opposition. Both of these teams are in the top 10. And, remember, defense is going to be HUGE in the Dance this year because of the way fouls are being called. Teams who can establish solid defensive credentials without getting into foul trouble are teams you’ll want to bet on in March.

 

Pace Ranking

Ohio State: #268

Michigan State: #144

Ohio State is a slow team that tries to work for a good shot. That’s obviously not working out very well in terms of execution. Michigan State is seen by some as slow and plodding. But, they really don’t play that way any more. We saw often last year that the team best able to force its tempo on a game would typically win…and that home teams were more often able to do that than visitors. So, we can see that Michigan State will try to force a faster tempo on proceedings, hoping to rush OSU into mistakes. The Buckeyes will try to slow things down and win a defensive battle.

JIM HURLEY would love for you to try out his basketball. You can purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you’d to talk about value-priced packages that take you through MARCH MADNESS and beyond, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages with the NFL playoffs when you call.

Back with you tomorrow to discuss another big TV game in college hoops. Then, we’ll end the week with four days of NFL Playoff previews:

Thursday: New Orleans at Seattle

Friday: Indianapolis at New England

Saturday: San Francisco at Carolina

Sunday: San Diego at Denver

College football is behind us…but college basketball, the NBA, and the NFL Playoffs will keep the profits rolling in. Be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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