We have an interesting non-conference battle to look forward to this afternoon as the No. 6 Baylor Bears will head up to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit to meet the Michigan State Spartans. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET and the game will air on Fox.
Baylor (9-0) has ripped right through it non-conference slate and was last seen dunking Seton Hall 78-60 on December 5 as part of the Big East-Big 12 battle. Seven of the Bears’ victories have come by at least 15 points and that game was the latest of their dominant efforts as they established a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never looked back. RayJ Dennis stepped up with 17 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in the win.
Michigan State (4-5, 0-2 Big Ten) is struggling, dropping back-to-back games to open Big Ten play last week. The Spartans were last seen falling to Nebraska 77-70 last Sunday, a game where the Cornhuskers simply outshot them 50% to 44.3%. Tom Izzo’s bunch desperately needs to stop the bleeding as they’ve lost three of their last four contests.
What will make or break both of these teams is when Baylor has the ball and Michigan State is defending. The Bears have the second-most efficient offense in the country per KenPom and are top 10 in categories like effective field goal percentage and offensive rebound percentage. They are also the best three-point shooting team in the country at 46.1%, so they can quickly bury an opponent with effective shooting from downtown.
The Spartans on the other hand are the 16-most efficient defense in the nation and are holding opponents to under 45% shooting from two. Their average possession length on defense is 18.1 seconds, so they are doing an effective job at slowing opponents down and making it a bit difficult to put up a clean shot. They are most likely going to try to drag Baylor down into quicksand to win this game.
What this game means for Baylor
Baylor is cruising right along and even though Michigan State is struggling, this would count as a Quad 2 win and that would be another nice resume boost for the Bears. With a date with Duke at Madison Square Garden looming next week, a win on the road here would give this team even more confidence heading into that showdown.
What this game means for Michigan State
Michigan State has undoubtedly been the biggest disappointment in college basketball so far. The preseason No. 4 team in the AP poll already has five losses on its resume and we haven’t even reached Christmas yet. There is still plenty of time for the Spartans to turn things around and a heck of a way to spark that turnaround would be upsetting a really strong Baylor team in this psuedo-home game in Detroit.
Baylor vs. Michigan State Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Baylor -3.5
Moneyline: Baylor -148, MSU +124