There are very few off days in the highly competitive Big Ten and the February 10th Illinois at Michigan State betting matchup is no different. The Fighting Illini (17-5) are up to #10 in the country after winning five of their last six as they try to stay within a game of Purdue atop the conference standings.
The Spartans (14-9) are just 6-6 in Big Ten play, but are actually -3.5 favorites for Saturday’s matchup in East Lansing. Part of that line has to due to Michigan State’s success at home, where they are 12-2 on the season. A whopping 74% of the betting public are backing MSU here.
Why Illinois Has Value at +3.5
There are worse wagers on the Saturday CBB slate than the #10 team in the country getting +3.5 points whether it’s on the road or not. Michigan State is very good at home – but not invincible as evidenced by a 70-57 loss to Wisconsin back in early December and an OT loss at home to James Madison as -16.5 point favorites in the season opener.
Illinois also comes into Saturday’s contest hot as winners of three in a row and five of their last six. They are an OT loss at Northwestern away from a six game winning streak and boast the #3 scoring offense in the conference at 82.5 ppg while the Spartans score the 4th fewest points in the Big Ten.
Illinois did beat Michigan State 71-68 on January 11th to get a push on the -3 point spread, but one big difference is that the Fighting Illini did not have leading scorer Terrence Shannon, Jr. (20.0 ppg) in that game as he was serving a suspension for sexual assault allegations that has since been rescinded. Shannon, Jr. is starting to get back in the groove as he’s scored 18 and 23 points the last two games.
Why Michigan State Has Value at -3.5
The Spartans have to be -3.5 favorites for a reason on Saturday up against the #10 team in the nation. Michigan State did have a couple rough home losses this season, but that was also much earlier in the year. MSU has since won their last 8 contests in East Lansing, all by at least 9 points.
Michigan State is coming off a loss this week, but it was another solid defensive showing in a 59-56 defeat at Minnesota. That was the 5th time in the last seven games that the Spartans have allowed 62 points or less, not a huge shocker for the second best defense in the Big Ten (65.0 ppg).
Shannon, Jr. is rolling for Illinois right now, but Michigan State’s Tyson Walker has averaged 19.5 ppg over his last two as well. Jaden Akins has also gone for 16+ points in two of his last three so the Spartans do have the firepower to stick with a solid Illinois offense.
Free February 10th Illinois at Michigan State Betting Pick
Taking the +3.5 points for a 17-5 Illinois squad is tempting, but in reading the line for this game it looks like a big Michigan State win. This feels like Illinois should only be a +1 point underdog or even favored, so the Spartans are the contrarian play.
Free Pick: Michigan State -3.5