Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#7935 Illinois vs.
#7936 Michigan State
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala

It’s a battle of Big Ten opponents on the hardwood in the Great Lakes State. The #5 Illinois Fighting Illini are on the road as they make the trip to face the Michigan State Spartans Tuesday night. Illinois comes in off a 94-63 demolition of Minnesota on the road in their previous contest Saturday afternoon. Michigan State knocked off Indiana 78-71 on the road Saturday in their latest contest. In the all-time series between the programs, the Spartans own a 63-60 advantage and have won six of the last eight meetings. That includes a 70-69 road victory in the most recent meeting on February 11, 2020.

Illinois Fighting Illini Seeking Eighth Straight Victory

Illinois ran their win streak to seven games as they took care of Minnesota on the road in their most recent contest. The Fighting Illini improved to 16-5 overall and stand 12-3 in the Big Ten, putting them second in the conference standings. Illinois trailed Minnesota by five early in the game before going on a 16-5 run to take a 27-21 lead with 8:40 to play in the first half. The lead remained six with 3:18 to play in the half before the Fighting Illini went on a 19-2 run spanning both halves to go up 56-33 with 18:25 to play. The rout was on at that point as Illinois cruised the rest of the way. Illinois shot 56.1% from the field, including seven of 14 from three-point range, and won the rebounding battle 37-27 in the game. Kofi Cockburn led the Fighting Illini with 22 points while Ayo Dosunmu posted his second triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the win.

The Fighting Illini puts up an average of 81.8 points per game on the season, which puts them 16th in the nation in scoring offense. Illinois collects 40 rebounds per contest while handing out 17.1 assists per game. The Fighting Illini is slightly above average defensively, ranking 130th in the nation by allowing 68.6 points per game. Ayo Dosunmu leads the team with 21.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists a night. Kofi Cockburn (17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds) is one of two other players averaging in double figures this season. Adam Miller, Andre Curbelo, Trent Frazier (10.2 points), Da’Monte Williams, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Jacob Grandison and Coleman Hawkins are other contributors for coach Brad Underwood. Illinois shoots 50.6% from the floor as a team. The Fighting Illini connects on 7.4 three-pointers a game while shooting 39.3% from long range. Illinois is struggling at the free-throw line this season as they convert 69.2% of their opportunities.

Michigan State Spartans Looking to Earn Upset Win

Michigan State had lost two straight and six of their previous eight before going on the road and knocking off Indiana in their last game. The Spartans improved to 11-9 overall and stand 11th in the Big Ten with a 5-9 conference record this season. Against Indiana, Michigan State trailed 16-4 early before rallying to climb within four at the half. The Spartans trailed by 10 again in the second half and still was down nine with 12:59 to play before rallying. Michigan State closed to within three with 10:17 to go before going on an 18-4 run to take a 67-56 lead with 5:32 to play. The Spartans didn’t let their lead drop below four the rest of the way with that coming in the final minute. Michigan State shot 49.2% from the field, including seven of 17 from three-point range and won the rebounding battle 36-29. Aaron Henry led the Spartans with 27 points and five rebounds in the victory.

The Spartans enter this contest 197th in the nation in scoring offense with 70.8 points per game on the season. Michigan State is 54th in the nation in rebounding (38.4 rebounds per game) and 21st in assists with 16.9 dimes per game. The Spartans are a slightly below-average team defensively as they are 216th in scoring defense by allowing 71.7 points per game on the year. Aaron Henry contributes 15 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists to lead the team. Joey Hauser puts up 10.2 points plus 6.4 rebounds per game this season. as the only other player averaging in double figures for the Spartans. Gabe Brown, Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Joshua Langford, Foster Loyer, Julius Marble II, A.J. Hoggard and Thomas Kithier are key contributors. Michigan State shoots 42.5% from the field as a team this season. The Spartans knock down an average of 7.2 three-point field goals on the year while shooting 33.3% from beyond the arc. Michigan State is decent at the charity stripe as they shoot 73.9% from the free-throw line on the year.

Best Bets for this Game

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Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


Michigan State started the year ranked #13 in the country and rose to as high as #4 in mid-December but the wheels have come off since that point. The Spartans are struggling to get consistent production from anyone other than Henry and Hauser, which is going to present a challenge for them most nights in the Big Ten. While Michigan State does have four of their five conference wins at home, the fact remains that Illinois is no pushover. We just saw the Fighting Illini dismantle Minnesota on the road and they own wins over Duke on the road and Iowa at home this season. Illinois has won seven straight and their offense has been tough to slow down this season. The Fighting Illini should dispatch the Spartans, even on the road, to run their win streak to eight games.

Prediction: Illinois Fighting Illini -7

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


Illinois is eighth in offensive efficiency, 8th in effective field goal percentage (56.9%), 51st in offensive rebounding percentage (32.3%), 10th in three-point shooting and 19th in two-point shooting (55.9%) this season. The Fighting Illini is 89th in tempo with 69.9 possessions a night. Michigan State stands 88th in offensive efficiency but they stand only 242nd in effective field goal percentage (48.5%) and 249th in two-point shooting (47.8%) on the year. The Spartans are solid defensively, ranking 50th in defensive efficiency though they are just 329th in turnover percentage (15.4%) on the season. Michigan State is above average in the tempo department, ranking 136th with an average of 69.8 possessions a night. Illinois hits the 80-point plateau, which helps push this one over the total.

Prediction: Over 145.5

Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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