As most of our literally dozens of dedicated readers probably remember, ole Ciaran got lit up with Frump’s last pick. Overall we’ve been pretty good, but that NCSU +5 @ UAB in the NIT was nothing short of embarrassing. Then again, I’m not sure anyone could have seen it coming, at least to that extent, but all apologies nonetheless.
Well, it’s time to get one back, and I think tonight’s (marquee?) Northern Iowa-Michigan State game presents us with the best opportunity. Make the jump for some trends and analysis as to why…
I usually try to avoid games hovering around that “Pic ‘Em” status, but, still able to find at NIU +1, this one just seems too good to pass up. First of all, as we all know at this point, NIU is just good. Not good for a mid-major, or whatever, just good. The Panthers, in their 3rd straight trip to the Big Dance, have multiple three point threats; a solid, 7’0″ big man in Jordan Eglseder; and, perhaps most importantly, play surprisingly tenacious defense. They’re just an all-around solid and balanced squad that’s biggest disadvantage at this point is probably the simple fact that they couldn’t possibly be overlooked by anyone anymore.
Now, that’s not to say the Spartans are chopped liver, of course, but they’ve certainly been thoroughly tenderized by significant injuries to Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen and Delvon Roe. This combined with the following trends leaves me wondering why the Panthers aren’t actually giving up some points in this one.
NIU is 23-10 ATS in all lined games this year, and 6-1 ATS as an underdog. The boys from Cedar Falls are also posting an impressive 15-5 ATS record in games against teams with a winning record, and, perhaps most importantly, are 9-2 ATS in March games over the past three seasons (which includes a 3-0 ATS in the Tourney).
Turning to Michigan State, at just 13-20 ATS overall this year, they’ve obviously struggled to cover. Moreover, the Spartans are returning a paltry 10-17 ATS number as a favorite, 4-10 ATS outside Big 10 play, and are just 6-15 ATS when playing a team with a winning record this season. All that said, though I obviously expect some fireworks, and certainly won’t call this one a lock, I see Farokhmanesh and the Panthers as the ones keeping their title hopes alive tonight.
Expect this one to ultimately go the way of 300…like, if it ended right after Leonidas dies.