NCAA Betting Preview: No. 10 Michigan St. vs. No. 7 UCLA

2011 Final Four logoA compelling matchup is set for Thursday night in Tampa when No. 10 Michigan State takes on No. 7 UCLA in the Southeast region (9:20 p.m. ET, TBS).

The Spartans (19-14 SU, 11-19-1 ATS) had an up and down season but they still have a lot of talent led by PG Kalin Lucas (17.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) and head coach Tom Izzo, who led MSU to a national title in 2000.

The Bruins (22-10 SU, 15-15-1 ATS) are young and talented as well and they are coached by Ben Howland, who led UCLA to three straight Final Four appearances (2006-2008).

Despite facing a No. 7 seed, No. 10 Michigan State is listed as a 1-point favorite at SBGGlobal.com and the total is set at 130.5. On the moneyline, the Spartans are -120; the Bruins are +100.

The Bruins are led by F Reeves Nelson (13.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg), F Tyler Honeycutt (12.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and G Malcolm Lee (13 ppg, all of whom made the All-Pac-10 first team. Not to be forgotten is freshman center 6-foot-10 center Josh Smith (10.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) who can be a force inside.

The Bruins might choose to run the ball and that might play right into the hands of Michigan State. The Spartans have an excellent point guard in Lucas and players like F Draymond Green (12.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and G Durrell Summers (11.5ppg, 4.3 rpg), who can run.

The Spartans didn’t get much chance to play at a fast pace in the brutal Big Ten but that may change in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans may end up playing with a chip on their shoulder as not many people are giving them a chance and discounting their players other than Lucas.

Here are some key college basketball betting stats for Thursday’s game:

The Spartans are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four vs. the Pac-10. The Spartans are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games. The Spartans are 5-13-1 ATS in their last 19 games overall. The Spartans are 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral site games.

The Bruins are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall. The Bruins are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog. The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral site games.

The under is 6-1 in the Spartans’ last seven neutral site games. The under is 7-2 in the Spartans’ last nine overall. The under is 4-0 in the Bruins’ last four vs. the Big Ten. The under is 4-1 in the Bruins’ last five overall.

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