The Michigan State Spartans look like a vulnerable team after dropping two straight conference games to weaker teams. Michigan State will look to turn things around when they travel to Champaign-Urbana to take on the Fighting Illini on Tuesday night. Illinois has been bad for the last few seasons, but they are starting to show some signs of life. Expect the State Farm Center to be filled with orange in a loud atmosphere for this game.
Michigan State comes into this game with an overall record of 18-4, and are 9-2 so far in Big Ten Conference play. The Spartans looked like the team to beat in the Big Ten, but back to back losses have them in a first place tie with Michigan. Illinois is still near the bottom of the conference standings, but they have played better of late. The Fighting Illini have won two of their last three games, including a 71-64 victory over Nebraska on Saturday. Michigan State is -10.0 over Illinois in this game.
Illini Offense Coming To Life
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood brought his uptempo offensive style to Champaign last season, but he didn’t bring any talent with him. The Fighting Illini struggled mightily for the first year and a half under Underwood, but they are starting to come to life of late. Illinois is averaging 73.6 points per game this season, and they won’t be afraid to run with Michigan State. Underwood’s team is also one of the better defensive teams in the Big Ten, forcing close to 17 turnovers per game. The Illini still have a long way to go, and they need some more talent, but this team will give opponents fits the rest of the season.
Trent Frazier was the big man on campus last season for the Illini men’s basketball team, but he has some running mates this season. Frazier still leads the team with 14.6 points per game and is shooting better than 40 percent from the three-point line, but he has help. Ayo Dosunmu is one of the best freshmen in the Big Ten Conference and is scoring better than 13 points per game. Illinois is still looking for some help down in the paint, but their guards can get the job done.
Spartans Struggling Without Langford
The Spartans recently learned that Joshua Langford will be lost for the remainder of the season, and that is a huge blow to their Final Four chances. Langford was averaging 15 points per game, and the Spartans have struggled to replace his scoring output. Michigan State is still playing terrific defense, allowing just 67 points per game this season, but they have to find ways to score on a consistent basis. Michigan State will look to run against the Illini, but they are going to have to knock down shots.
Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston has been the leader of the team all season long and is one of the best players in the country. Winston is averaging a team-high 18.8 points and 7.3 assists this season and is the catalyst of the Spartans offense. Xavier Tillman and Nick Ward have combined to score over 23 points per game this season and should have a field day against a much smaller Illini team.
Spartans Win, Illini Cover
Playing Illinois should help get the Michigan State Spartans back on track, but this won’t be an easy game. The Fighting Illini have been a much better team of late, and they are traditionally hard to beat at home. There is no doubt that Michigan State will win, but Illinois is gonna keep it close. Take the points in this game and bet the Illinois Fighting Illini -10.0 against Michigan State.