March Madness prediction, odds: Marquette the pick

It feels as if Marquette has been undervalued in just about every NCAA Tournament betting market despite playing like one of the best teams in the country for months.

And that continues to be the case ahead of its clash Sunday with Michigan State.

The Golden Eagles struggled to find a rhythm early in the year, carrying a 9-4 record with two overtime losses into late December.

Since then, they’ve ripped off an incredible 20-2 run — tied for the second-best record by any team in that stretch — with the nation’s second-longest win streak (10 games) entering Sunday.

Over that 10-game heater, Marquette ranks eighth in T-Rank’s power rating and is one of just five teams with top-30 efficiency on offense (12th) and defense (26th).

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The key has been the turnover battle: Shaka Smart’s group ranks 21st in defensive turnover rate (21.7 percent) and 31st in offensive turnover rate (13.8 percent), which allows star guard Tyler Kolek (7.6 APG) to facilitate this team’s free-flowing offense in high volume.

That’s a major concern for Michigan State, which is among the nation’s worst teams at generating extra possessions via forced turnovers or offensive rebounds.

Shaka Smart

In fact, the only way the Spartans keep pace with elite teams is with their uber-efficient 3-point shooting (39.4 percent).

Defending the 3-pointer has been a weakness at times for the Golden Eagles, but they’ve held four straight opponents to 33.3 percent or worse from deep.

If they can limit Tom Izzo’s group in that department on Sunday, this game won’t be nearly as close as the line suggests.

The play: Marquette -2.5 (BetMGM)