Illinois vs Michigan State Odds, Picks and Predictions: Illini Put Up Fight in Sparta

Michigan State is in need of a win, but our college basketball picks see Illinois bringing the fight to the Spartans' door this afternoon, where both attacks should thrive.

Feb 10, 2024 • 12:00 ET • 4 min read
Terrence Shannon NCAAB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

As the NCAA Tournament quickly approaches, Tom Izzo’s going to need to work some magic for his Michigan State Spartans to be playing when mid-March rolls around, and he’ll have his work cut out for him with the Illinois Fighting Illini coming to town.

Despite Illinois being ranked No. 10, the college basketball odds have Michigan State as 4.5-point favorites at home in a game that Sparty will need Tyson Walker to bring his best in to keep up with the explosive Illini offense.

Find out where my best bets lie in our college basketball picks and predictions for Illinois vs. Michigan State on Saturday, February 10.

Illinois vs Michigan State best odds

Illinois vs Michigan State picks and predictions

While the Michigan State Spartans have relied heavily on strong defensive play this season, Tom Izzo’s squad is going to need to show up on the offensive end in a game where points could be plentiful. Both Sparty and the Illinois Fighting Illini have scorers capable of taking over games, and that bodes well for the Over with the total set at 144.5.

Without a doubt, Brad Underwood’s Illini have been one of the best offensive teams in the country this season. Illinois is coming off the perfect game to explain the teams strengths and flaws, an 87-84 overtime victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers 

"Typical day in the Big Ten,” Underwood said after the victory over the Cornhuskers. "It's the best league in the country. Great players. Great coaches.”

Underwood’s team managed to pull out a win behind its three-headed offensive attack of Terrence Shannon Jr., Marcus Domask, and Coleman Hawkins, despite giving up 31 points to Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga.

For as special as Illinois has been offensively this season, its defense can be punctured by talented scorers and Michigan State has just that in Tyson Walker. The Spartans are scoring 74.5 points per game, but rank a respectable 35th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, even with having played the 20th-toughest schedule based on opponents adjusted defensive efficiency.

The key to it all has been Walker, an All-Big Ten guard who is averaging 19 points per game and has helped lead a program that’s quietly been one of the best 3-point shooting offenses in the conference. Michigan State is shooting 36.6% from three, 47th in the country, and has been a solid 47.3% from the floor this season, 53rd in the country. It should also help that Illinois has been so strong offensively that it leads to plenty of possession for opponents, teams are averaging 64.9 field goal attempts per game against the Illini, 13th-most in the country. 

Walker’s ability to shoot from deep (38.1% from three), pull from the mid-range, and attack the rim with his athleticism (50.7% from two) has been the catalyst for this offense. But beyond the undersized guard, Malik Hall, AJ Hoggard, and Jaden Akins have each shown an ability to score when needed, with all three averaging at least 11 per game.

In this matchup with the Illini, who allow 69.6 points per game and rank 32nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, the key will be exploiting its perimeter defense with Walker, Akins (38.7% from three), and sixth-man Tre Holloman (42.1% from three). If those three bring their best from behind the arc, the Spartans can keep up with one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

Illinois’ offense is the reason the team sits in the Top-10 and has a real shot come March. Underwood’s program is averaging 82.5 points per game, 25th-most in the country, and ranks seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency.

In the Big Ten this season, the Illini are outscoring opponents by an average of 81.5 to 73.1 and have been one of the most well-rounded scoring attacks in a conference loaded with offensive stars. Illinois is shooting 46.1% from the floor, 53.9% from two, 33.9% from three, and 72.3% from the free throw line while getting to the charity stripe 22.1 times per game.

With Shannon Jr.’s 20 points per game leading the way, Illinois has an explosive guard with size to create mismatches, and the cherry on top is his ability from deep. Shannon Jr. shoots 35.3% from three and hits 2.3 threes per game. That makes Domask the perfect complement to him with his 15.7 points per game and the vast majority of his work coming from the mid-range where he’s shooting 54.9% from two.

Hawkins is the X-factor with the big man averaging 12 points per game while bringing athleticism and willingness to shoot from behind the arc (he attempts 4.6 threes per game at 38.6%). Underwood has even found a fourth-fiddle in Oregon transfer Quincy Guerrier, who scores 11 per game.

Between Walker’s high-scoring ability, and the pieces around him, and Illinois’ offensive firepower, the Over is in good shape.

My best bet: Over 144.5 (-125 at PROLINE+)

Illinois vs Michigan State same-game parlay

Over 144.5

Illinois +4.5

Playing in Spartan Stadium isn’t an easy task, but the Fighting Illini have the offense to push this Michigan State Spartans program that’s struggled to play consistent basketball this season.

In five games against Top-25 opponents this season, Michigan State is 1-5, including a loss to Illinois. In those six games, Sparty has been outscored by an average of 72.3 to 68.6.

Michigan State is certainly better than its 14-9 record and ranks 17th on KenPom, but this is an Illinois program with Big Ten title hopes that ranks ninth on KenPom and has the scoring talent to compete against any team in the conference.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Illinois vs Michigan State spread and Over/Under analysis

The line has slowly continued to shift in the Michigan State Spartans’ favor. Most books opened with Sparty as 2.5-point home favorites and now the vast majority have Izzo’s program at -3.5. DraftKings has Illinois +3 at -102 while PROLINE+ has the Illini +4.5 at -125.

Sparty is 12-10-1 ATS this season and 5-6-1 in the Big Ten. Illinois is 11-8-3 ATS and 6-4-1 in the Big Ten. The last time these two programs played, it ended in a push with Illinois favored by three and winning 71-68.

The total hasn’t moved much, with most books opening between 145.5 and 146. PROLINE+ is offering the lowest game total at 144.5. Michigan State is 10-13 betting the Over this season and 4-6 in the Big Ten while the Illini are 14-8 betting the Over, including 8-2 in the conference.

Illinois vs Michigan State betting trend to know

Illinois has hit the Over in 19 of their last 32 games (+4.70 Units / 13% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for Illinois vs. Michigan State.

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Illinois vs Michigan State game info

Location: Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, MI
Date: Saturday, February 10, 2024
Tip-off: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: FOX

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