The ACC-Big Ten Challenge continues on Wednesday and features a matchup of top-25 teams as the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans (5-0) will take on No. 18 Virginia Cavaliers (3-1). Tipoff is scheduled for 9:15 pm ET from John Paul Jones Arena.
Michigan State has had a fantastic start to the season, including a 75-69 win over the No. 10 Duke Blue Devils on December 1. Now, they will look for another ACC victory against a solid Cavaliers team. Since their win over Duke, the Spartans have also beaten Detroit (83-76) and Western Michigan (79-61).
Virginia was victim to one of the opening week shockers as they lost to unranked San Francisco, 61-60, back on November 27. Looking to prove that they are the real deal, they will try to get some redemption by taking out Michigan State. Since their loss to San Francisco, they are on a two-game winning streak, including wins over St. Francis PA (76-51) and Kent State (71-64).
Despite being the higher ranked team, the Spartans are the underdogs playing on the road. Virginia is currently -126 to win while Michigan State’s moneyline sits at +108. The spread features Michigan State +1.5 while the over/under for total points is 128.5.
Virginia Hoping To Pick Up Victory Over Ranked Team
Their loss against San Francisco earlier in the season was a disaster that the Cavaliers are still trying to bounce back from. Nothing would help ease that pain than a victory over a top-ranked team in the nation.
Defensively, Virginia continues to be solid as they open the season. Through four games, they are allowing an average of just 57.5 points per game to opponents. In fact, to date, the most points they have allowed is 64, thanks to a solid defense and a slow-it-down pace of play.
Leading the way thus far for the Cavaliers is forward, Sam Hauser. Through four games, he is averaging 14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game.
Other contributors for Virginia include forward Jay Huff (12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks), guard Trey Murphy III (10.8 points, 3 rebounds), and guard Kihei Clark (7.5 points, 2.8 assists).
Spartans Looking To Take Down Another Ranked ACC Team
The victory over Duke propelled the Spartans into the top five in the nation, and they are hoping that a second victory over a ranked ACC team can propel them even more.
Currently, Michigan State ranks 51st in the nation in scoring, averaging 80 points a game. Forward Joey Hauser has led the Spartans thus far, averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. If that last name sounds familiar, it is because he is the brother of Virginia’s leading scorer, Sam Hauser.
Aside from Hauser, Rocket Watts (13.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists) and Aaron Henry (11.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists) have been major contributors. In fact, in their win over Duke, it was Watts that led all Spartan scorers with 20 points. Michigan State also has five other players averaging five or more points per game.
Taking Michigan State +1.5
As an interesting tidbit, the Hauser brothers have been teammates for as long as they can remember. Whether it was in high school or at Marquette, they have always been side by side. Wednesday night will be the first time that they square off with one another.
This game will really come down to pacing. The Spartans like to get out and run, while the Cavaliers like to slow things down. If Virginia can do so, they may just be able to pull this one out; however, it seems more likely that Spartans’ coach Tom Izzo finds a way to pick up the tempo, which will lead his club to victory.
This one could go either way as these are both solid teams, but especially being spotted the 1.5 points, Michigan State seems like the best play in this one.