A top 25 showdown is on tap Tuesday night when the #10 Michigan State Spartans (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) clash with the #24 Illinois Fighting Illini (13-5, 6-2 Big Ten) in a Big Ten Conference tilt. Both teams last played Friday night, with the Spartans knocking off Wisconsin on the road, 86-74, and Illinois falling to Maryland in College Park, 81-65.
Tuesday’s tip-off is scheduled for a 7 p.m. EST start inside the State Farm Center in Champaign, IL. Illinois opens a 5.5-point favorite, and the over-under total is at 144.5 points.
What to Know – Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has won ten of its last eleven contests and sit atop the Big Ten standings heading into Tuesday’s matchup. The Spartans rank 19th in the KenPom and 18th in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
On offense, the Spartans average 75.3 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting from the floor and 39.2 percent beyond the arc. MSU’s defense holds opponents to 66.1 points per game, 39.3 percent from the field, and 30.0 percent from three.
The Spartans opened up a 16-point first-half lead and never looked back, snapping Wisconsin’s seven-game winning streak Friday night. Michigan State shot lights out, hitting 52.7 percent for their shots. Malik Hall came of the bench to pace the Spartans in scoring with 14 points.
Michigan State is 10-8 against the spread this season with a 4-0 record ATS on the road. The Spartans are 6-3 ATS over their previous nine games against the Fighting Illini.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
The Fighting Illini have dropped two in a row and tumbled nearly out of the top 25 but remain just a half-game back of the Spartans in the conference race. Illinois is 15th in KenPom’s rankings and 13th in the NET.
Illinois ranks near the top of the league offensively, scoring 79.3 points per game thanks to 46.2 percent shooting from the floor and 37.6 percent shooting from three. On defense, Illinois surrenders 66.9 points to opponents and limits foes to 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent from the 3-point line.
Playing without star big man Kofi Cockburn, the Illinois offense never got things going in last week’s defeat at Maryland. Illinois shot well below their season averages and lost both the turnover and rebounding battle. Alfonso Plummer poured in 18 points to lead the Illini in scoring in the defeat.
Illinois is 9-9 ATS this year and 6-4 ATS on its home floor. The Fighting Illini are 14-6 ATS over their last 20 games when facing the Spartans at home.
The Pick is In
There is no concrete information on the status of Cockburn for Tuesday’s game. If he goes, the Spartans will have a tough time containing him. If he’s out, the Spartans are a good enough squad to come in and steal a road win from the Illini.
We will err on the side of caution and roll with the hot hand in the conference showdown against top-ranked teams.
Betting Pick: Michigan State Spartans +5.5