College Basketball Odds & Picks for Illinois vs. Michigan State: Bounce Back Ahead for Illini?
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Coleman Hawkins (Illinois)
- No. 12 Illinois travels to No. 19 Michigan State following a blowout loss at Rutgers.
- The Spartans are also coming off a loss, as they were defeated by Penn State on the road.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup and explains why he's backing the road team in this one.
Illinois vs. Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Illinois will head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State in a must-win ball game for a team with Big Ten title aspirations.
The Fighting Illini are coming off of their worst game of the season: a 70-59 loss at Rutgers, which has notched some major high-profile wins lately. Still, Illinois was supposed to win that game 92% of the time, per ShotQuality. Basically, they had an off-shooting night and should be primed for a bounce-back game here on the road.
MSU has dropped three of its last four games, so it’s not playing its best ball right now. This is a perfect position to back the Illini as a short road underdog.
Illinois is a stronger ball club than Michigan State, especially right now. It finds itself at full strength after going through illnesses, injuries, and suspensions across the board for much of the season.
The last time these two me, Illinois defeated MSU without Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbelo. It should do the same with everyone available this time around.
Cockburn is a matchup nightmare for much of the Big Ten. Even in the loss to Rutgers, he put up a solid performance with 20 points and 10 boards. He will likely be paired with Marcus Bingham or the rest of the forwards on MSU.
Outside of Bingham, no one comes close to Cockburn’s size, and he will exploit this. Unless double-teamed or matched up with similarly large players (Zach Edey of Purdue or Azuolas Tubelis of Arizona), he has done damage. He’s a Wooden Award contender for a reason and will be pushed by head coach Brad Underwood in this one.
The rest of the team was ice cold in the Rutgers loss. As a unit, Illinois shot 45.7% overall and 6-of-23 from 3. This team typically shoots 36.2% from downtown. They have been a bit colder, shooting around 34% in Big Ten conference play, but this is significantly better than recent performances.
Alfonso Plummer is one of the reasons for this cold spell. He averages 14.9 points per game and went 0-for-4 from deep in the last game, so look for him to get back on track.
Finally, even if the Illini have cleaned it up a bit, they have the propensity to turn the ball over under pressure, particularly Cockburn, Curbelo, and Trent Frazier. MSU only forces turnovers at a 15.8% clip to rank 322nd in the NCAA, so do not expect it to cause many mistakes for the Illini.
In fact, in Big Ten play, Illinois ranks in the middle of the pack in offensive turnover percentage, so it’s improved since stumbling out of the gates to begin the season.
On the other side, MSU is dead last in offensive turnover rate this conference season. It turns the ball over 20.3% of the time, and Illinois can speed teams up and cause some havoc on the defensive end.
After all, the Illini rank first in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency in Big Ten play, per KenPom. They should have momentum on their side after a tough outing at the RAC.
Now, the Spartans can get hot from deep. They shoot 38.3% as a team, ranking ninth in all of college basketball. Illinois holds opponents to 31.3% from downtown, which is not necessarily impressive, but it’s better than most squads.
Since Illinois is so elite at guarding inside the perimeter (44.1% 2-point percentage on defense), it should be able to contain Michigan State because it shoots less than 50% as a unit inside the arc.
Illinois vs. Michigan State Betting Pick
Illinois is going to bounce back from that egregious road loss to Rutgers. Expect Underwood to get on his team and for his guys to respond.
The Illini should be able to win a close road game in this one with their defensive capabilities and a stronger shooting performance than they showed against Rutgers.
Take Illinois at +1, and play to -1.5.