College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Michigan State vs. Illinois (Tuesday, January 25)
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Christie (MSU)
- No. 24 Illinois hosts No. 10 Michigan in a massive Big Ten affair from Champaign.
- The Illini are tied for second in the Big Ten standings while the Spartans are coming off a huge road victory over Wisconsin that pushed them into the top spot in the league.
- Doug Ziefel offers up his top pick and breaks down this game below.
Michigan State vs. Illinois Odds
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Spartans tackled their first big foe, as they went on the road and defeated Johnny Davis and the Wisconsin Badgers. Now, they could face an even bigger challenge, as they head to the State Farm Center that Kofi Cockburn and the Fighting Illini defend.
While it’s been an imposing task to win in Champaign this season — where the Fighting Illini are 8-2 — the Spartans may have a far less formidable challenge with the status of Cockburn up in the air.
We saw in the Illini’s last matchup how much Cockburn’s presence was missed, as Illinois fell to the Maryland Terrapins. The Illini were out-rebounded and out-gunned, as Maryland sank 53% of its shots, with the large majority of them coming from close range.
Meanwhile, that same night, Michigan State had perhaps its most robust performance of the season, as it beat the eighth-ranked Badgers in every facet of the game.
Can the Spartans take down back-to-back Big Ten opponents and reign supreme in the conference?
Throughout conference play, the Spartans have displayed their ability to score efficiently from anywhere on the court. This stems from the size, length and athleticism that they possess.
In fact, Michigan State is the 10th-tallest team in the country, though it has multiple “big men” who have an outside game.
The Spartans’ leading scorer, Gabe Brown, is a 6-foot-8 forward who has proven that he can not only take 3s but make them, as well. Brown is the leading perimeter shooter of a team that is sixth in the country in 3-point percentage.
While Brown does deserve praise, the key man for this matchup is Marcus Bingham Jr. If Cockburn plays, Bingham Jr. will match up with him, and the MSU big man should fare well on both ends of the floor.
The seven-footer will be equal in size to Cockburn, allowing the Spartans to remain competitive, if not build an edge on the glass.
Bingham Jr. is also the better defender between the two, as his 13.4% block rate dwarfs Cockburn’s. He has actually been slightly more efficient on the offensive end, shooting nearly 60% from inside the arc.
Michigan State has so much size and length to throw at opponents that ultimately impacts both ends of the floor.
Alongside Bingham Jr., Max Christie and Joey Hauser have also proven that they score and rebound against anyone.
Whichever team wins the battle of the boards and shoots better from beyond arc will win this game. Even with Cockburn playing, the Spartans have the edge in both entering the contest.
The Fighting Illini had their fair share of struggles against Maryland without their leader. His loss to this team was felt in a big way, and we even analyzed it after the news of Cockburn’s concussion broke. If you need to refresh how big of an impact king Kofi makes on the floor and the spread, click here.
Starting in Cockburn’s place was sophomore Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk. This was his first start of the season, and it was not the outing that the Illinois faithful had hoped for. Bosmans-Verdonk posted six points and one rebound while racking up three fouls.
The absence of Cockburn made Illinois into a jump-shooting team. While it is an excellent shooting team that is 15th in adjusted efficiency and 32nd in effective field goal percentage, even the best of shooting teams go on cold streaks.
Alfonso Plummer led the way vs. Maryland with 18 points — 15 of those came from made 3s. Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison followed him in scoring, but it was far from enough, even with the three of them in double-digits.
Now, Illinois is going up against a Spartans defense that has been great at contesting shots and limiting outside shooting. MSU is 18th in effective field goal percentage allowed. The Spartans’ length is a significant factor on defense, as they are eighth in block percentage.
Michigan State could cause the Illini to have another long night of shooting.
Michigan State vs. Illinois Betting Pick
Clearly, the status of Cockburn looms large on this game, but I am going to cap it under the assumption that he will play.
As I alluded to earlier, Michigan State can match up with Cockburn and contest Illinois’ barrage of outside shooters. The Spartans have also been the more efficient outside shooting team and have the size to battle on the boards.
Pick: Michigan State +3.5 or Better
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