Indiana knows better than any other team in the country, that it’s not always easy being number one. The Hoosiers have spent much of the 2012-2013 season as the No. 1 ranked team and each of their three losses have come when they’ve been top dog. Today, they will once again put that No. 1 ranking on the line against a very talented and fourth-ranked Michigan State team in East Lansing. And that’s not the only big game going on today in the college ranks. Two other top five squads will suit up for action in what should be a fun-filled Tuesday in college hoops. Check out the three biggest games of the day.
#1 Indiana Hoosiers +2 at #4 Michigan State Spartans -2
In what some of hailing as the biggest regular season game of the year – at least so far, and especially in the Big Ten – the Hoosiers will take on the Spartans in East Lansing, putting not only their No. 1 ranking at risk, but also their top standing in the conference. Michigan State enters today’s game just one game back of the Hoosiers, with a chance to claim the number one spot for themselves.
Both teams enter the ballgame with winning steaks (Hoosiers 3, Spartans 5) and the Spartans will look stay perfect at home this season (15-0). Of course, Indiana beat the Spartans just a few weeks ago on Jan.27 by a score of 75-70, but that game was in Bloomington.
Hoosiers star guard Victor Oladipo expects to play, even after he limped off the court in the win against Purdue last week. They will certainly need him, as he was integral to the win last month, scoring 21 points against Sparty.
However, the home court advantage should be huge in this game. With an undefeated record on their home floor and considering Indiana has struggled with the burden of being No. 1, Michigan State should be able to fend off a slightly banged up Indiana squad. Take the Spartans to cover -2 and shake up the Big Ten.
Virginia Cavaliers +8 at #2 Miami Hurricanes -8
If the Hoosiers do go down, Michigan State may leap up to the No. 1 spot, but a win for Miami over a very good Virginia team would give it a strong argument as well. The Hurricanes will look to extend their impressive winning streak 14 games, while hoping to stay perfect at home as well, as the Canes are 11-0 on their court this season.
Everything seemingly is pointing to the Canes to get the job done, but the Cavaliers have proved to be more than capable in the ACC this season with wins over Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland. They come in averaging just four points fewer per game than Miami, but they also allow four fewer points per game.
Even if the Canes earn the win, this game should be close. That’s why I like Virginia to cover +8 on the road today.
#5 Florida Gators -5 at Missouri Tigers +5
The Gators also will not have things easy on the road against an 18-7 Tigers squad, especially considering Missouri is also unbeaten on their home floor this season. The Tigers are just three home wins away from perfection and they would love nothing more than to get one step closer by knocking of the fifth ranked Gators.
Florida is beating teams by more than 20 points on average this season, but the SEC has not been the strongest conference in the land this year. However, considering the Gators have already defeated the Tigers once this year – and by 31 points mind you – they should be able to at least cover five today even on the road. Take Florida to cover -5 here.