USC vs. Michigan State 2023 March Madness First Round Top Picks: 3 Plays Going Various Directions

profile image of Doug.Upstone
Head coach Andy Enfield of the USC Trojans talks with Boogie Ellis #5 in the first half of a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

NCAAB Pick: USC +2 (-112) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

Bookmaker logo
USC +2 (-112)
Visit Site

This 10 vs. 7 matchup kicks off the Friday action that will conclude the first round. Just think, as odd as it sounds, in a couple of years USC and Michigan State will be Big Ten partners instead of nonconference combatants. The NCAAB odds have the Spartans as a two-point favorite with a total of 137.

USC Trojans vs. Michigan State Spartans

Friday, March 17, 2023 – 12:15 PM EDT at Nationwide Arena

USC Preview

The Trojans enter this contest 22-10 and 17-15 ATS. USC’s offense revolves around guard Boogie Ellis who averages 18 PPG. Next is fellow guard Drew Peterson at 14 PPG and they account for 44 percent of the offense. Still, the Men of Troy have a trio of players that average 9 PPG, which makes them a bit more balanced than at first look.

The calling card of coach Andy Enfield’s squad is the defense, which limits teams to 39% from the field. They are especially proficient inside the arc where opposing teams only shoot 42.4% which is second in the country to Alabama. Joshua Morgan is the key rim and paint protector at 6-11.

Michigan State Preview

At the beginning of the season coach, Tom Izzo said he “liked his team” which was his way of saying Michigan State was not an elite group, but might be better than some surmised. Turns out both parties were correct with the Spartans 19-12 and 15-16 ATS.

The Spartans are a bit more balanced than USC with five players averaging 9.2 to 14.6 PPG, led by Tyson Walker. The general recruiting is off from previous years and offensively Sparty only averages 70.2 PPG. While they don’t hoist threes like an NBA team, they connect on 39.5%, making roughly 7 out of 19 attempts from behind the arc.

If the offense is not up to the usual standards, neither is the defense, holding opponents to 42.6%. The lack of foot speed and quickness is what Michigan State is lacking to reach the next level.

Important Numbers

  • USC is 7-8 and 9-6 ATS in away games +1.2-point differential
  • Michigan State is 7-10 and 7-10 ATS in away games -2.4-point differential
  • Common Opponents: USC 0-2 SU & ATS – Michigan State 2-0 SU & ATS
  • Situational Perspective: USC 2-4 & 3-3 ATS as away underdogs – Michigan State 2-1 SU & ATS away favorites
  • With the total at 137, the records of both teams from 135 to 140 total points
  • USC 9-3 SU and ATS
  • Michigan State 6-5 and 5-6 ATS

ATS Prediction

Michigan State has more size in the front line and USC turns the ball over about every fifth possession. However, the Spartans’ average defense doesn’t generate many miscues and will encounter the Trojans’ defense which is hard to score on inside 15 feet. Based on the total, the general pace of the game should favor USC as we see above and they have the most dynamic player on the floor in Ellis.

Sparty gets points for having Tom Izzo, but any coach needs talent and the Trojans have the better defense. With Michigan State having lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney, they are 8-20 ATS off an upset loss by 10 points or more as a favorite. USC is in a tight one as expected.

Trojans fans and any other CA locals can use any of these California betting sites to make your March Madness bets.

NCAAB Pick: USC +2 (-112) at Bookmaker

Totals Prediction

In the last 27 matchups of 7 vs. 10, the over is 17-10. The Spartans are on a 13-5 over run in away games when playing against a team with a winning record past the midpoint of the regular season. The Trojans come in 18-6 over off an away upset loss to a conference rival as a favorite. For your NCAAB picks, expect the total to go over 137.

Score Prediction: USC 71 – Michigan State 69

NCAAB Pick: Over 137 (-111) at Bookmaker

Bookmaker logo
Over 137 (-111)
Visit Site

How To Bet the First Half Line

Though we expect it to be a close contest, Michigan State is only a one-point favorite in the opening half and that’s where Izzo’s preparation will help. The green/white-clad Spartans are 20-10 against the 1st half line this season and 8-2 ATS when playing just a second time in eight days.

NCAAB Pick: Michigan State First Half -1 (-110) at Bookmaker

Bookmaker logo
Michigan State First Half -1 (-110)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.