#5 Illinois vs Michigan State

#5 Illinois vs Michigan State | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on February 22, 2021

No. 5 Illinois is battling for the Big Ten regular-season title as well as potentially a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini are +1500 to win the national title and will be favored on the NCAAB odds on Tuesday at disappointing Michigan State.

How to Bet Illinois at Michigan State NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Tuesday, 7 PM ET
  • Where: Breslin Center
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Stream: Fox Sports Go
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA (Illinois will be favored)

Last Meeting

This is the lone scheduled meeting this season – they were to play on Jan. 23 but it was postponed due to COVID issues on the Spartans. Last year, Sparty won both matchups. The one in East Lansing was 76-56. Cassius Winston had 21 points and Xavier Tillman 19 – both are now in the NBA. Michigan State was in control from the outset but had just a six-point edge at halftime. The Spartans pulled away early in the second half with a 15-3 run. Current Illini star Kofi Cockburn struggled on just 2-for-10 shooting.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Illini (16-5) won their seventh in a row Saturday, 94-63 at Minnesota. Ayo Dosunmu had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, and Kofi Cockburn scored 22 points in 24 minutes. Trent Frazier added 15 points and six steals to help the Illini stay in second place in the Big Ten with just under two weeks to go in league play.

The Illini jumped out to a strong start and took a 48-33 lead into the locker room at half time. Frazier capped off a 13-point first half with a half-court buzzer-beater to extend the Illinois lead before the break. Illinois exploded out of halftime and never looked back, dominating in nearly every statistical category. Fastbreak points favored Illinois by a 31-8 margin.

Illinois shot a season best 86.7% from the free-throw line (13-for-15) with Cockburn and Grandison each going 4-for-4. Frazier led the defensive effort with six steals, as Illinois forced the Gophers into 18 turnovers.

Illinois held Minnesota to 40.7% shooting (22-54). Illinois has held 11 of its last 12 opponents to less than 44% shooting. Since the loss to Ohio State, Illini foes are shooting a combined 39.9% over the last seven games (172-431). Illinois is 14-1 this season when holding teams to less than 45% shooting.

Dosunmu is the first major conference player to have multiple triple-doubles in one season since Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ in 2018-19. Dosunmu joins Happ, Dennis Smith (NC State), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), and Draymond Green (Michigan State) as major conference players with multiple triple-doubles in one season since 2010.

Illinois has won seven straight Big Ten games, matching its longest streak last season. Illinois has won five consecutive road games during Big Ten play (at PSU, at NW, at IND, at NEB, at MINN), its best stretch since a school record 13-game Big Ten road winning streak from Feb. 3, 2004 through Feb. 19, 2005.  Illinois’ 12-3 conference record is its best through 15 games since the 2005 Big Ten championship team went 15-1 in Big Ten play. The Illini have seven Quad 1 wins.

Why Bet on Michigan State? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

MSU (11-9) would not be an NCAA Tournament team as things stand. The Spartans did get a big 78-71 win at Indiana on Saturday, though. Junior forward Aaron Henry tied a career-high with 27 points as Michigan State used a big second half to pull the upset. Henry has scored in double figures 18 times this year and 38 in his career. It was his fifth game with at least 20 points this season and the sixth of his career.

Joshua Langford finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Gabe Brown added 14 points and four rebounds. Langford now has 1,034 points and passed Gary Harris (2012-14, 1,025 points) and Kevin Smith (1979-82, 1,028 points), and is now 50th all-time in scoring at MSU.  He needs 21 points to pass Marcus Sanders (1962-65, 1,054) for 49th place all-time.

The Spartans played a small lineup and dared IU to win from the perimeter. The Hoosiers couldn’t do it, going 4-for-19 from 3-point range. Guard Armaan Franklin had 13 points and three 3-pointers. Fellow guards Rob Phinisee and Aljami Durham were a combined 0-for-10 from the field for a combined four points.

The Hoosiers had seven second-half turnovers and only shot 60 percent from the line. Michigan State, which didn’t shoot a free throw in the first half, finished 13-for-15.

After committing 10 turnovers in the first half, the Spartans turned it over just four times in the second half. The Spartans connected on 56.7 percent of their second half shots (17-of-30), including 55.6 percent of their 3-pointers (5-of-9). The Spartans grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and scored 14 second chance points. MSU’s bench scored 34 points, the 15th time this season with at least 20 points and the eight with at least 30, including each of the last three games.

The 78 points scored by MSU are tied for the team’s second-highest output in a Big Ten game this year.

Expert Prediction

  • Illinois 74, Michigan State 72

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