Illinois vs Michigan State Picks and Odds

Kofi Cockburn happy reactiopn

Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, right, celebrates one of his shots with Illinois’ Da’Monte Williams (20) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
  • The Illinois Fighting Illini vie for an eighth straight win when they visit the slumping Michigan State Spartans
  • Illinois can claim a share of top spot in the Big Ten standings with a win
  • The Spartans aim to win two in a row in conference play for the first time this season – see who we like below

The Illinois Fighting Illini will be aiming to claim a share of top spot in the Big Ten conference standings when they visit the slumping Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday as 7-point favorites.

The Fighting Illini have tallied SU wins in seven straight to pull to within a half-game of the first-place Michigan Wolverines. The Spartans return home looking to build on this past weekend’s 78-71 upset win in Indiana, but have recorded consecutive wins just once during their current 3-6 run.

This Big Ten conference matchup is set for 7pm ET Tuesday night at Jack Breslin Student Events Center.

Illinois vs Michigan State Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Illinois Fighting Illini -7 (-110) -320 O 145 (-110)
Michigan State Spartans +7 (-110) +260 U 145 (-110)

*Odds taken at FanDuel on 02/22/2021.

Illini Racking Up Road Wins

The Fighting Illini continued to dominate on the road in their most recent outing, a 94-63 victory in Minnesota. That drubbing marked the team’s most decisive win in conference play so far this season. Currently perched at No. 5 in the AP Top 25 rankings, Illinois has maintained a steady attack as the season has progressed. They rank 16th in the nation with 81.8 points scored per game.

Junior guard Ayo Dosonmu continues to lead the club with 21.2 points per game, including a triple-double in this weekend’s W over the Gophers. But it has been Kofi Cockburn that has powered the Illinois offense in recent outings. The big man has averaged 20+ points per game while leading the team in scoring in three of four contests.

While the Illini have covered the spread in five of their past seven, they have struggled to pay out as big chalk. The team failed to cover in wins last week over Nebraska and Northwestern as double-digit favorites. That drops them to 1-4 ATS in their past five when favored by seven or more points. Uneven results have also been the norm on the road, with Illinois going 5-4 ATS in nine away dates this season.

Spartans Struggle With Toothless Attack

While the Fighting Illini eye first place in the Big Ten standings, the Spartans return home with far more modest goals. Michigan State did itself a favor with this past weekend’s upset win over the Boilermakers, which ended a four-game road losing streak.

However, back-to-back steady performances have been rare for the defending Big Ten champions, who currently find themselves mired in 11th place in the conference standings with a dismal 5-9 record.

On a positive note, the Spartans have compiled a respectable 3-3 record at home in conference play this season, including outright victories in their past two as home chalk. However, the team has long track record of mediocrity as home underdogs to overcome.

MSU suffered a lopsided 88-58 defeat to No. 15 Iowa in their last home date as an underdog just 10 days ago, and has gone 4-5 in nine dates as a home underdog since 1997. The squad has also lost outright in five of seven dates with nationally ranked opponents this season,

Generating points has emerged as a huge problem for the Spartans, particularly on home court. MSU has averaged just 61 points per game over their past five home contests. And while that has fueled a steady 5-0 run for the UNDER in totals betting, it also produced just one ATS win. The Spartans have been unreliable at the sportsbooks all season, covering consecutive games just once, going 5-15 ATS. That includes just three covers in 14 conference matchups.

The Spartans have a long history of success in home dates with Illinois, winning three straight, and nine of 11 since 2006. But with these two teams headed in opposite directions, look for the Fighting Illini to win and cover Tuesday.

The Picks: Fighting Illini -7 (-110); OVER 145 (-110)

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