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We have a loaded slate on Tuesday night, jam-packed with Big 12, Big 10, and Big East matchups! A total of 12 ranked teams play on February 21st, including four games where both teams are Top 25 in the nation.
Today, we will look in-depth at Indiana versus Michigan State, Marquette versus Creighton, and Baylor versus Kansas State. Our best bets for these games and analysis of each team’s season overall are listed below. Let’s get into it!
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The Big Ten season is nearly at its end, and it has come as a roller coaster for the Indiana Hoosiers. After starting 1-4 in conference play, the Hoosiers rattled off nine wins in their past 11 games, catapulting them to solo third place in one of the toughest leagues in America.
Indiana has done all of this without its starting point guard, Xavier Johnson, who was a massive part of its late-season run in 2021-22. Johnson has been out since mid-December after he broke his foot against the Kansas Jayhawks.
We have gone on and on about how incredible Trayce Jackon-Davis has been during this stretch, but it bears repeating once more. Jackson-Davis has averaged close to 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in his past ten games, making him by far the best player in the country during that stretch; he would have a legitimate National Player of the Year case if it weren’t for Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey.
Regardless, Indiana is dangerous as long as Jackson-Davis is on the floor, Indiana is dangerous. The Hoosiers rank 14th in the country in 3P% (three-point percentage) and 26th in eFG% (effective field goal percentage.) These marks are extraordinary for a team that has been playing without their starting point guard for 16 straight games. Once Johnson is back, IU will be amongst the best teams.
Meanwhile, Michigan State has performed close to what was expected: slightly above average. The Spartans were not ranked heading into the 2022-23 season, and despite having one of the best basketball coaches to ever storm the sideline in Tom Izzo, the personnel was going to be underwhelming.
Due to a relatively weak recruiting class (Jaxon Kohler and Tre Holloman play roughly ten minutes per game each), Michigan State has had to lean on upperclassmen, which isn’t necessarily bad. The Spartans’ top four scorers (Joey Hauser, Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, and Malik Hall) are all upperclassmen.
The reality with the Spartans is this: they don’t have much offensive talent (75th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency), but their defense (27th) can keep them in games against superior opponents. We have seen this repeatedly, including in narrow losses against Gonzaga and Purdue and wins against Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland, and Rutgers.
In the first matchup between these two teams, which took place in Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers won comfortably by a score of 82-69. The significant difference in the game was three-point shooting: Indiana finished 9-for-15 (60%). In comparison, Michigan State shot just 4-for-14 (28.6%.) Indiana also shot well above its average from the free-throw line in that game, an area where it has otherwise struggled.
Usually, Michigan State is a solid three-point shooting team (37%), but it does not have much volume (296th in 3PA.) The Hoosiers hold opponents to just 32% shooting from deep, so it would not be shocking to see another rough night from deep for MSU.
All things considered, the Hoosiers handled Michigan State in their first game earlier this season. Indiana has been playing terrific basketball, and giving it 3.5 points anywhere is a lot. In Indiana’s past 11 games, it has won or covered a 3.5-point spread in ten of them. The Spartans could squeak out a win, but it would be narrow.
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Creighton has had a rough schedule this season, sitting right around the top ten in many strength of schedule rankings, including KenPom and TeamRankings. The Bluejays initially struggled, dropping six-straight games to Nebraska, Arizona, Texas, BYU, Arizona State, and Marquette.
However, since December 22nd, the Bluejays have won 12 out of 15 games; their only losses have been to No. 20 Providence, No. 16 Xavier, and No. 18 UConn, all of which were on the road. They also have gone 9-1 in their past ten! Creighton has been nearly flawless at home, too, and this 5.5-point line certainly reflects that fact.
The Bluejays are very top-heavy, playing all five of their starters 30 or more minutes per game; they have an elite starting five, but if they have to turn to their bench, they can get into trouble. Creighton’s sixth-leading scorer averages roughly three points per game!
Creighton’s defense is elite; it holds opponents to an eFG% of 45.3%, which is two percent lower (better) than the next-closest Big East team and over eight percent lower than Marquette.
The Golden Eagles might have a top-three offense (third in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom) in the nation, but their defense is below average (64th), to say the least, especially as far as the Big East is concerned.
Nobody expected Shaka Smart to turn this Marquette team into a contending squad this quickly, but he certainly has; it has been fun to watch. However, can he take the Golden Eagles into Creighton and get a road win to creep closer to a Big East regular season title?
These two teams have faced off before: Marquette won by double-digits in mid-December. The circumstances were different, though, as Creighton missed its best player Ryan Kalkbrenner. Additionally, the Bluejays were not playing nearly as well then as they are now.
Further, they were on the road in that matchup but will play in front of their fans in this one!
This game should be close for most of the game, but Creighton’s recent play and having Ryan Kalkbrenner available this time will prove too much for Marquette. Look for the Bluejays to pull away late and cover what would typically be considered a large spread between two closely-ranked teams.
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The Big 12 could very well have another national champion this season (Kansas won last year); eight or nine of the ten teams in the conference have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament in March. By the end of the 2022-23 season, the Big 12 could legitimately be deemed the best conference for a given year in the KenPom era (since 2001-02.)
Baylor has been nearly as good as the sky-high expectations that were placed on it in the preseason. The Bears boast the second-ranked offense in the nation (per KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency) behind incredible guard play from future lottery lock Keyonte George and experienced champions LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler.
We have seen Baylor have significant success with its three-guard lineups just as recently as the National Championship it won in 2021. This team has similar talent to that one, as far as guards are concerned. The significant difference is the considerable margin on the defensive end of the floor; they were 22nd in adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom) in 2020-21 but rank merely 88th this season.
Still, Baylor is 10-2 in its last 12 games, only losing to Kansas and Texas on the road. It held a double-digit lead going into halftime against Kansas before blowing it, too! In short, the Bears have been one of the hottest teams in the nation!
Meanwhile, Kansas State started the season hot but has cooled off recently, primarily due to its struggling offense; it has dropped four of its past six games. Regardless, this Wildcats team is dangerous, particularly on the defensive end, where it ranks 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Wildcats are led by Keyontae Johnson (17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds) and Markquis Norwell (16.9 points and 7.5 assists), two seniors that dictate entirely what the offense will look like on any given night. Even though Nowell has been a fantastic passer this season, he has struggled with shooting efficiency. Kansas State has a great shot if he plays consistently in this one.
I love backing the Wildcats as home dogs in this spot, despite Baylor wanting to avenge its loss to K-State earlier in the season. They have a 14-1 home record, with a narrow, three-point loss to Texas being their only blemish. Further, Kansas State is 11-4 against the spread at home. Giving Kansas State points at home is surprising but a pleasant one for us.
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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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