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Michigan State vs. Illinois: Picks, predictions for Big Ten matchup

The Spartans meet the Illini in a Big Ten matchup on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans take on the No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini in a Big Ten matchup on Thursday, January 11. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET from Champaign-Urbana.

MSU (9-6) ranks 19th overall at KenPom and falls in the top 30 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency metrics. They were highly touted in the preseason, but quickly fell out of the top 25 following a 1-2 start to the season. Since then, they have recovered, and are currently on a six-game winning streak, with their most recent victories coming against Penn State and Northwestern.

The Spartans are led by Tyson Walker, who averages 20.6 points per game, and by Mady Sissoko, who adds 6.6 rebounds per game. MSU averages 18.6 assists per game, ranking 10th in the nation, and keeps teams to 65.9 points per game, ranking 50th in the nation.

Illinois (11-3) ranks ninth overall at KenPom and sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They fell to No. 1 Purdue by five points in their latest game, but have notched wins over Florida Atlantic and Northwestern this season. The Illini average 83.5 points per game (17th in the nation) on 47.9% shooting (36th in the nation). They average 44 rebounds per game (3rd in the nation).

Terrence Shannon led the Illini with 21.7 points per game, but is currently suspended due to sexual assault allegations. Quincy Guerrier adds 7.6 rebounds per game, and the Illini should be able to take care of this MSU team without too much difficulty. The Spartans are far from the toughest opponent Illinois has faced this season, and their high-scoring offense and home court advantage will put them over the edge in this matchup. Their good run of play without Shannon, despite the loss at Purdue, should still be enough to cover at home here.

Michigan State vs. Illinois odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Illinois -3.5
Total: 149.5
Moneyline: Illinois -162, Michigan State +136

Pick: Illinois -3.5