The Michigan State Spartans’ future title betting odds haven’t moved much, but the team’s 5-0 start was enough to move up the championship contender list on FanDuel.
As it stands, MSU is currently tied for the fifth-best odds to win the national title at +1500. Before the season, the Spartans were +1500 to win it all at DraftKings but those odds were only the 12th-best at the time. Therefore, despite MSU’s overall odds not moving, the Spartans have done enough to jump other teams who the oddsmakers have dropped.
The standout victory of the season for No. 8 MSU was its 75-69 win at No. 6 Duke on Tuesday. It was the first time the program has won a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which was without its typical raucous fanbase because of the coronavirus pandemic.
MSU overcame an early 10-point deficit thanks to its balanced scoring effort. Five different Spartans reached double figures in scoring with Rocket Watts leading the way with 20 points, while Aaron Henry added 14. Joey Hauser recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Julius Marble scored a career-high 12 points off the bench. Malik Hall also tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"They are able to play at a consistently higher level than us due to their depth right now," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said to the media after the game.
The game also served as an early indicator of MSU coach Tom Izzo’s game plan in the backcourt when the Spartans face elite athleticism and talent. Watts earned the start over Foster Loyer and held the minutes edge 25-15 for running the point. Watts is bigger and more athletic, which allows him to better facilitate the offense and defend on the perimeter. It’s no secret that other teams see the 6-foot Loyer as a defensive liability and look to attack him.
Loyer started at the point for MSU in the first two games of the season, but it’s been Watts’ starting job since the Duke game. In three games as a starter, Watts is averaging 17.7 points per game.
For those who live by the saying, “Good teams win, but great teams cover,” then MSU is not off to a great start. The Spartans are just 2-3 against the spread, and likely 1-3-1 for most depending on what number bettors got the Notre Dame line at. Some books closed at MSU -9.5, while others were at -10. The Spartans ended up beating the Irish 80-70.
When a perennial contender like MSU faces nonconference opponents outside major conferences, big spreads are likely. The Spartans have been favored by double digits three teams and have failed to cover in each instance.
MSU didn’t cover 22 against Eastern Michigan (83-67) or 27.5 against Detroit on Friday, winning 83-76. And the 79-61 win over Western Michigan on Sunday was not enough to cover 23 points.
But with single-digit spreads, MSU is 2-0 or 1-0-1 depending on the Notre Dame number.
Bettors in Michigan can expect another smaller spread on Wednesday when the Spartans travel to No. 15 Virginia.