Michigan State vs Illinois Picks and Predictions: Back Fighting Illini If Cockburn Plays

With Kofi Cockburn's status up in the air due to a concussion, we're anxiously awaiting an update before hammering Illinois -5 at home against Michigan State. If he's active, our betting picks like the Fighting Illini to win even if the spread balloons.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2022 11:02 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Kofi Cockburn Illinois Fighting Illini NCAAB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday's a big day of college basketball betting with 10 ranked teams in play. Two of those squads face off at State Farm Center in Champaign where the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Michigan State Spartans.

MSU is the No. 10-ranked team in the country and is coming off a big win but No. 24 Illinois enters this Big Ten Conference clash as 5-point chalk. 

Here are our best free college basketball betting picks and predictions for MSU vs. Illinois on Tuesday, January 25, with tipoff at 7 p.m. ET. 

Michigan State vs Illinois odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

This line opened with the Illini as 6-point home favorites with the Over/Under at 145.5. Early money has come in on the Spartans and the Under, shifting the line to Illinois -5 and the total dipping all the way to 142.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Michigan State vs Illinois predictions

Predictions made on 1/25/2022 at 10:15 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Michigan State vs Illinois game info

Location: State Farm Center, Champaign, IL
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET

Michigan State at Illinois betting preview

Key Injuries

Michigan State: No injuries to report.
Illinois: Kofi Cockburn C (Questionable), Austin Hutcherson G (Out).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Over is 7-1-1 in the Fighting Illini's last nine home games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Michigan State vs. Illinois.

Michigan State vs Illinois picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

The Spartans are coming off an impressive 86-74 win over Wisconsin on the road, bouncing back from a 64-62 defeat at home to Northwestern. That loss to the Wildcats is Michigan State's only defeat since the start of December, going 10-1 straight up and 6-5 against the spread over that span. But while Tom Izzo's squad sits atop the Big Ten with a 6-1 mark in conference play, they've luckily avoided Purdue, Ohio State, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois...until tonight. 

When healthy, the Illini look like national championship contenders but the status of their best player is up in the air with Kofi Cockburn listed as questionable due to a concussion suffered in a double-overtime loss to Purdue last Monday. Illinois fell apart without him in their previous game on Friday when they lost by 16 points to Maryland despite coming in as a 4.5-point favorite. 

The seven-foot, 285-pound center might actually be the best player in college, averaging 21.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, and what he does for the rest of the Illini offense is invaluable. With Cockburn dominating inside, things get a lot easier for Illinois guards Alfonso Plummer (16.4 pgg on 46/41/96 shooting), Trent Frazier (13.4 ppg), and Jacob Grandison (11.6 pgg on 50/47/87 shooting) to operate on the perimeter. 

If Cockburn plays, he should be able to man-handle Spartans center Marcus Bingham Jr., who is a talented shot-blocker but gives up more than 50 pounds and can be bullied in the post.

MSU looked fantastic offensively against the Badgers on Friday but could be in a bit of a letdown spot staying on the road to face another highly-ranked conference foe. Meanwhile, the Illini are coming off back-to-back losses and will be champing at the bit to get back on a winning track. Back Illinois to win and cover. 

Prediction: Illinois -5 (-110)

With Cockburn along with that previously mentioned trio of sharpshooting guards, the Illini can certainly hang points on the board. Despite scoring just 65 points on 39% shooting against Maryland, the Illini still rank 15th in the country with 79.3 ppg and that number bumps up to 84.2 at home. 

The Spartans don't have many big-name scorers with Gabe Brown (13.6 ppg) and Max Christie (10.5 ppg) the only two players averaging double digits and both shooting less than 42% from the floor. That said, they have plenty of depth and have an efficient 46.9 FG% as a team. That shooting gets even better from long range, with MSU ranking sixth in the nation with a sizzling 39.2 3PT%.

The Spartans are coming off a terrific offensive performance, scoring 86 points on 53% shooting against a defensively stout Wisconsin program. And while regression seems inevitable, they should still have some offensive success tonight.

With MSU going 7-3-1 to the Over in its last 11 games and Illinois going 11-2-1 O/U in its previous 14, go against the line movement and take the Over. 

Prediction: Over 142 (-110)

Our best bet for this game is Illinois -5 with one caveat: wait until Cockburn's status clears up before betting it. 

There might not be a more valuable player to his team than Cockburn. Illinois struggled when he served a three-game suspension at the start of the season, losing to Marquette, shooting 46% from the field against Arkansas State and 44% versus tiny Jackson State. 

They also lost a close game to Arizona when Cockburn was held to just 5 for 15 from the field and lost in double-overtime to Purdue when he got in foul trouble and was limited to 22 minutes. This is a team that lives and dies with his success and - as we saw against Maryland - Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk and Omar Payne are massive downgrades in his place.

While Cockburn confirmed to be playing might fatten this line a tad, we'd rather play that than consider Illinois as a slimmer fave with him out of action. 

Pick: Illinois -5 (-110)

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Did you know that if you parlayed our Michigan State vs. Illinois picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

Use our college basketball parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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