Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans Betting Preview

Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans Betting Preview

No. 12 Illinois has a strong NCAA Tournament resume, which is still lacking something that would make the Illini stand out: a true road victory over a ranked opponent.

Illinois is 2-3 against ranked teams this season but are only 5-4 in all of the road games they’ve played in. No. 19 Michigan State handed the Illini a one-point loss on the road earlier this season.

The Spartans, who are 18-7 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play, have hit a rough patch, dropping three of their past four games. Illinois is a 1.5-point favorite, and the over/under is set at 139.5 points.

Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview

Illinois junior center Kofi Cockburn is a double-double machine, averaging 21.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Cockburn, who holds the Illinois record with 42 career double-doubles, is the only player in the top 10 nationally in both points and rebounds. But the Illini’s offensive prowess isn’t just forced inside the 3-point line.

Graduate student Alfonso Plummer leads the Big Ten by knocking down 3.0 3-pointers per game and is second in 3-point percentage, knocking down 39.8 percent of his attempts.

Fellow graduate student Jacob Grandison shoots 40.2 percent from the perimeter. Getting good looks against Illinois is difficult, as opponents are only shooting 40.4 percent from the field, which ranks 40th nationally.

Michigan State Spartans Preview

The Spartans’ recent struggles have pushed them out of the race for the Big Ten regular-season title. Michigan State has been good at home this season, compiling a 10-2 record, but both of its home losses have come against Big Ten opposition.

Senior forward Gabe Brown leads Michigan State by scoring 12.1 points per game. Malik Hall also scores in double figures for the Spartans, contributing 10.2 points per game.

The Spartans have been shooting well from the perimeter this season, ranking 15th nationally by knocking down 38.3 percent of their 3-point shots. Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in the field goal percentage by limiting opponents to 40.3 percent shooting.

The Spartans also lead the Big Ten in blocked shots, turning away 5.6 shots per game. Michigan State is 40-20 all-time against the Illini in East Lansing.

Betting Prediction

The Spartans won an ugly 56-55 decision in the first meeting in Champaign in January. Michigan State made three fewer field goals and six fewer 3-pointers but was able to win because it earned 17 trips to the free-throw line and knocked down 14 of those attempts. Illinois was also missing Cockburn during the first meeting.

With Cockburn, the Illini are unlikely to be outrebounded by 14 like they were in the first meeting. Illinois has also been in better form recently. Expect the Illini to extend Michigan State’s recent suffering and collect an important road victory to stay in the race for the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

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