The Michigan State Spartans and the Illinois Fighting Illini take the floor at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, Michigan, for an all-important Big Ten basketball contest. The Fighting Illini are favored by 6.5-points, down from 7 at the opening.
The Fighting Illini are on a 7-game win streak after taking out the Minnesota Golden Gophers last Saturday as they posted 94 points over 50% shooting as Kofi Cockburn led the way with 22 points while leading scorer Ayo Dusunmu posted a double-double. On the other hand, Illinois has failed to allow 70 points to an opponent in 3 of their last 4 games, overall, while being 5-2 ATS in their last 7 outings.
The Spartans were able to halt a 2-game losing skid to go 2 games above .500 on the year after edging the Indiana Hoosiers last Saturday as they were able to pull away in the 2nd-half thanks to some hot shooting from leading scorer Aaron Henry, who led with 27 points, his 2nd 20+ point night in 4 games. The Spartans were also able to end a 4-game skid versus the number as they were able to cover as 6.5-point underdogs versus the Hoosiers.
The Spartans have won 2-straight in addition to 4 of the last 5 meetings versus the Fighting Illini, including 3-straight at home. The teams have split the spread in their last 10 outings, however, the Spartans have covered in 3 of the last 5 meetings at home.
Cockburn and Dosunmu continue to shine as Illinois' 1-2 punchIllinois is currently ranked in the top-15 in points scored per game (82) along with field goal and 3-point percentage. And while the Michigan Wolverines have just about solidified themselves as the cream of the crop in the Big Ten conference, one can certainly debate that the Fighting Illini is the 2nd best team in the conference behind the play from Dosumnu (21 ppg, 6 rebs, 5 ass) and Cockburn (18 ppg, 10 rebs, 2 blks). The former recorded a triple double versus the Golden Gophers with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists on 9-16 shooting while Cockburn record 6 rebounds along with 22 points on 9-12 FG.
Dosunmu is making 49% of his shots from the floor on the year along with connecting on 42% of his attempts from deep while Cockburn is currently at 68% while recording double-doubles in 9 of his last 10 starts. The center, however, posted only 11 points and 8 boards on 3-6 shooting in the Fighting Illini's last matchup versus the Spartans February of last year while Dosunmu led the team with 17 points and 9 rebounds on 7-17 shooting (1-4 3FG). In all, the Fighting Illini shot horribly in the contest (37%) while missing 13 of 18 from long-range in the 1-point home loss.
Forward Henry shines for Spartans in winHenry (15 ppg, 6 rebs, blk) posted 20 or more points for the 2nd-time in 4 starts as he led Michigan State with 27 points and 5 boards on an efficient shooting night. For the season, the forward is 45% from the floor while also being a force on the defensive end for the Spartans averaging over a block per game. Joshua Langford (10 ppg) recorded some productive minutes in the past while coming off a 14-point performance versus the Hoosiers (6 rebounds, 5 assists). In all, the Spartans have had their fair share of issues on the offensive end all season averaging just 71 points per game on 42% shooting.
Bench points ✅— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 21, 2021
Points in the paint ✅
FG % ✅
= WIN. pic.twitter.com/fII1v8CU4s
However, the Spartans have had some offensive success versus the Fighting Illini in recent matchups averaging 78 points in their last 3 meetings in East Lansing. In January 2020, the Spartans were able to pull away from Illinois in the 2nd-half despite shooting 43% for the game. The defensive effort was solid, however, as both Cockburn and Dosunmu struggled versus a Spartans defense that allowed just 29% shooting (11% from long-range) in the 20-point victory.
Stats & Trends
- Fighting Illini are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Fighting Illini are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Fighting Illini are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 Tuesday games.
- Spartans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.
- Spartans are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win.
- Spartans are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
The Fighting Illini are not only winners against the spread in 5 of their last 7 games, but are 3-1 ATS in their last 4 roadies entering this contest. The Spartans, on the other hand, despite winning 8 of 11 SU at home on the season, are just 1-4 against the number in their last 5 at the Breslin Student Events Center. And while Michigan State has had a slight edge covering the spread at home versus Illinois in recent matchups, the inside-outside punch of Dosunmu and Cockburn is for real and I see the road team pulling away to cover the points for this matchup.