NCAA Tournament Lines — Michigan State Wants to Bring the “Payne” to the Harvard Express

One thing BetDSI customers have got to say about the Harvard Crimson is that they aren’t exactly going to be sneaking up on anybody from this point forward. Teams should have learned their lesson from last season, when Harvard pulled off a big upset over New Mexico in their opening game against the NCAA Tournament lines, and once again they have pulled off an upset, albeit a mild one, at the expense of Cincinnati on Thursday. Undoubtedly the Michigan State Spartans have taken notice and will be well-prepared, as these two teams clash in college basketball betting action that will get underway at 8:40 PM Eastern time the Spokane Arena.

Michigan State got to this point by running Delaware up and down the floor on the way to a 93-78 victory that was highlighted by Adrian Payne’s heroics. Delaware looked to engage the Spartans in a fast-paced game, but we are not so sure Harvard is ready to do that. The Crimson held many fundamental advantages in defeating Cincinnati 61-57 in what is confusingly referred to as the “second round” but is actually the first round of action for 60 of the teams in the Big Dance.

Tommy Amaker Is no stranger two going up against the Spartans and their coach Tom Izzo, having been the head man at the University of Michigan for six seasons, where he led them to an NIT title, although he never had an appearance with them in the national tourney.

In the NCAA Tournament lines that have been established at BetDSI, Michigan State is the favorite, in a line that has been moving upward:

Michigan State Spartans -8
Harvard Crimson +8

Over 136 points -110
Under 136 points -110

One of those things you have undoubtedly heard time and time again the fact that Michigan State finally has a healthy roster together. That has been a rare case since the beginning of the season, as the Spartans have had to endure injuries of one kind of another to people like Gary Harris, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and power forward Adreian Payne, who sat out some time with an injury to his foot but really came roaring back. Basketball bettors know that he is obviously a key to the immediate fortunes of Michigan State, and he demonstrated that on Thursday by scoring 41 points, a career-high, against Delaware, which had the potential to give Spartans trouble with their talented backcourt. Payne was simply unstoppable, making all 17 of the shots from the charity stripe during this effort.

No, there is no guarantee that Payne will be able to repeat this effort. But the point is, he doesn’t have to. Unlike Cincinnati, which sometimes struggled to hit 40% in games and was too overly reliant upon their star, Sean Kilpatrick, Michigan State has many people who can carry the offensive burden. So if Payne has an off night, others can pick up the slack. When you add that to the fact that these guys are veterans and they can really get out on transition, you’ve got a very difficult combination to deal with. So as BetDSI customers can see, this is a whole different ballgame for Harvard, which beat New Mexico last year in the opening round of play (oops, the “second round”), but then ran out of material in the next round, as Arizona overwhelmed them by 23 points.

It is not inconceivable that Harvard could once again be overwhelmed by an opponent that is not only athletic, but dynamic offensively and, like most Spartan editions under Izzo, sound defensively and a demon on the boards. Enough basketball bettors have thought so, bringing this NCAA Tournament line up a point after it opened up at -7.

Harvard has five starters averaging 9.9 points per game or better, and a few of them can hit the three-pointer, although Laurent Rivard (43%) is by far the biggest threat. But the Crimson may be surprised at the quickness Michigan State will use to get out to the perimeter, using three guards at once most of the time, and having a rotation of four to work with. This “final exam” may be one they don’t pass.

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