Michigan State Spartans at Illinois Fighting Illini
It’s a Big Ten rivalry like no other Tuesday night between the Michigan State Spartans and Illinois Fighting
Illini. ESPN matchup predictor is giving the Spartans a lopsided 89.1% chance to beat the Fighting Illini.
This comes to no surprise as Michigan State is ranked no. 9 in the NCAA and one of the best teams in the
country. They are currently 18-4 on the season and second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. They are tied
with both Michigan and Purdue, at 9-2 in conference play.
While it’s been another good season for Tom Izzo and Michigan State, the struggles for Illinois continue.
Brad Underwood is in his second year as head coach and just 18-29 in that time. Illinois is currently 7-15
on the season and in 12th place in the Big Ten. Their 3-8 conference record is tied with Nebraska.
Ironically Illinois was able to beat Nebraska ,71-64, in their last game. This will be the only game between
Illinois and Michigan State this season, but perhaps fans will witness one of the biggest upsets of the
season. The Spartans are -10 on the road.
Spartans Looking to Get Back on Track
The Spartans have played well on the road this season with a record of 6-2. In order to beat them you
have to focus on stopping their three best players. Cassius Winston leads this team with 18.8 ppg and
dishes out an impressive 7.3 apg. Nick Ward is averaging 15.4 ppg and 6.9 rpg from the forward position.
Then the other guard alongside Winston is Joshua Langford, who is averaging 15 ppg. After rattling off a
13-game winning streak the Spartans have lost two in a row to Purdue and Indiana.
Illinois With Another Tough Season
The Fighting Illini are going to have to score points to keep up with the Spartans, as none of their players
are averaging over 15 ppg. Trent Frazier is averaging 14.6 ppg and shooting a team-best 40.1% from
three-point for Illinois. Ayo Dosunmo is second on the team in scoring with 13.8 ppg. Both guards for
Illinois are averaging over a steal per game, so we’ll see what kind of pressure they’ll be able to put on
Michigan State’s guards. Giorgi Bezhanishvilli is leading the team in field goal percentage (52.1%) and
averages 11 ppg. He’ll be battling down low with Ward, who comes in an inch shorter than Bezhanishvilli
but adds about 10 more pounds.
Pick and Prediction
It seems like forever ago when Illinois’s 2004-2005 squad was making a deep push in the tournament.
You had names like Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head, and James Augustine who are all Illinois
legends. They’ve been trying to return to that form since then, but just haven’t been able to bring in the
right talent. The rivalry between these two teams goes way back, as Michigan State leads the all-time
series, 61-59. It’s just not Illinois’s time to shine right now, and they seem to believe coach Underwood is
the guy to recruit the right talent and get them back to winning more games. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from
the State Farm Center in Champaign. Take the Spartans.