January 18, 2014 at 3:26 AM #53060
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Michigan State Spartans (16-1) vs Illinois Fighting Illini (13-5)
Saturday January 18
State Farm Center – Champaign, IL
Moneyline: No moneyline currently listed
Spread: Michigan State -4.5
O/U: No total currently listed
The Spartans have won nine in a row including their first 5 B10 conference games. Last time out they were held to just 54 points as Northwestern really slowed down the pace but the strategy was not effective as MSU still won by 14 even though C Adrien Payne did not play. He is not expected to go in this one either and his absence is giving coach Tom Izzo a chance to develop more depth.
One player that has taken advantage has been forward Kenny Kaminski. He may not look like much but he is a deadly marksman, making 61% of his three point shots and as Louisville proved last year having someone with some size who can knock down outside shots can be a huge advantage. I would have thought that Payne’s absence would open some scoring opportunities for Brandon Dawson but that hasn’t been the case. He is just the best rebounder under 6’7” in the country.
Michigan State is a top program but I am not sure they fall into the “public” team category. This year they have been very good against the number, especially on the road where they are 4-1 ATS. Over their 5-0 start in B10 play have been perfect against the spread as well.
The Illini raced out of the gate but have hit a few snags since B10 play began. They beat Indiana to open conference play but are currently riding a three game losing streak including at home to Purdue earlier in the week. They have get back to winning and all will be forgiven if they can take down a top team like Michigan State…but it won’t be easy. They have won their last three at home against the Spartans though.
Illinois has lost those three games in a row in three different ways. In the first they couldn’t stop Wisconsin, in the second they couldn’t score against Northwestern and in the third they blew it in the second half against Purdue. Transfer guard Rayvonte Rice has been excellent this season but opponents have quickly figured out that if you can limit him the Illini don’t have a lot of great scoring options. He is aggressive but sometimes to a fault.
Illinois has not covered any game on their current losing streak and a 1-3-1 ATS in conference play so far. If Payne doesn’t play it will be a little bit easier for them on Saturday but they are still going to have to play very well to get a victory and stop the slide. Desperation is not always bad, especially when you look at the rest of their schedule for the month. It is wicked hard.
Spread Pick: Michigan State -4.5
O/U Pick: N/A
Score Prediction: Michigan State 71 – Illinois 62
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