Michigan State Spartans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Predictions

Tue 2/23 7:00 ET
Illinois
Illinois Fighting Illini
16-5
11-9
Michigan State
Michigan State Spartans
Breslin Center

Pickswise's Expert Predictions & Analysis

Point Spread Prediction
Illinois
Odds
Bonus
Game Totals Prediction
Under
Odds
Bonus

Point Spread Prediction

Michigan State looks to build upon Saturday’s 78-71 road win versus Indiana as they host #5 Illinois Tuesday night in East Lansing. The Spartans came back from an early 19-6 deficit and outscored Indiana 52-41 in the second half en route to their fifth conference victory. The Spartans were led by junior guard Aaron Henry, who dropped 27 points, propelling the Spartans to the road win. Are the Spartans now capable of knocking off one of the hottest teams in the country at home? Illinois enters Tuesday night’s contest winners of their last seven Big Ten games and needs to close the regular season strong if they have any shot of securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday. 

The Fighting Illini are fresh off a 94-63 thrashing over Minnesota, capping off the regular-season sweep of the Gophers. Illinois’ average margin of victory over the Gophers in their two regular season games is a whopping 29 ppg. Not many teams go into the Breslin Center favored by seven points, but Illinois’ elite play warrants them being a multi-possession favorite in this one. Illinois has the personnel capable of giving Michigan State some fits, as sophomore center Kofi Cockburn (17.6 ppg, 10.3 reb) will be a matchup nightmare for a Spartan team still trying to find their identity in the low post. In Saturday’s win over Indiana, Michigan State played four different big men at the five (Julius Marble, Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham, and Mady Sissoko) in order to slow down Hoosier big man Trayce Jackson-Davis. Cockburn’s low-post presence coupled with a solid supporting cast sets Illinois up for the road win and cover. Back the Illini. 

Game Totals Prediction

The under looks to be the side in this one, as Michigan State has had troubles on the offensive end of the floor all season, making it tough to back an over in a game involving the Spartans. While Michigan State is coming off a 78-point offensive output in their last game, a good deal of their scoring came via isolation basketball. Trying to score 1v1 on a consistent basis is cause for concern for an offense that rates out as the 13th-most efficient in Big Ten play (out of 14 teams.) Illinois has been the more balanced team in conference play, as they rate out as the fourth-most efficient offense and second-most efficient defense. Michigan State’s only hope of staying in this one will be due to their defensive intensity. On the season, the Spartans rate out as the 50th-most efficient defense, only allowing opponents to score 95 points per 100 defensive possessions. Back the under here.

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