Michigan State, UConn Tip Off College Basketball Season

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Michigan State Spartans vs. Connecticut Huskies
College Basketball Betting Preview
11/9/2012 at 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Opening Lines: Michigan State -7, O/U 128½
(click for latest college basketball odds)
Television: ESPN

Michigan State Spartans: This is the season opener for both teams and part of the Armed Forces Classic that will take place at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Coach Tom Izzo’s squad is ranked No. 14 in the preseason AP and Coaches Polls after losing to Louisville (57-44) in the Sweet Sixteen last year. Gone is leading scorer and rebounder Draymond Green (16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game), but there are two capable big men remaining in 6-foot-9 Derrick Nix and 6-foot-10 Adreian Payne. The scoring is likely going to have to come from point guard Keith Appling (11.4 PPG last year), forward Branden Dawson and shooting guard Gary Harris. The sophomore Dawson appears healthy despite tearing his ACL last March while Harris is a very highly-recruited freshman.

Connecticut Huskies: UConn is without longtime head coach Jim Calhoun, who has retired and leaves the team in somewhat disarray, being ineligible for postseason play. Former UConn star Kevin Ollie takes over for Calhoun after playing several years in the NBA and serving two years as an assistant under Calhoun. The Huskies are unranked after losing leading scorer Jeremy Lamb and big men Andre Drummond, Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith. The first two are in the NBA while the latter two transferred. Enosch Wolf is a big body at 7-foot-1, but he’s questionable with a concussion (click for updated college basketball injury report), so the Huskies could have a big size disadvantage against the Spartans. The backcourt does have two returning veterans in Shabazz Napier (13 PPG) and Ryan Boatright (10.4 PPG), although the pair is also undersized with neither above 6-foot-1. Michigan State beat UConn in the 2009 Final Four (82-73 as 4 ½-point underdogs) with the Huskies getting some revenge (70-67 as 6-point ‘dogs) in the November 2010 Maui Invitational.

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