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

We take a look at Saturday’s Big Ten matchup between the Illini and the Spartans.

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

The No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini face the Michigan State Spartans in a Big Ten matchup on Saturday, February 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET, and the game will air on CBS.

Illinois (17-5, 8-3 B1G) is looking to hold onto their solo No. 2 spot in the Big Ten standings with a major road win here. The Illini fell to Northwestern at the end of January, but have since notched wins over Illinois, Ohio State, and Nebraska. In their latest 87-84 win over the Huskers, Coleman Hawkins, Marcus Domask, and Terrence Shannon Jr. each scored 18 or more points.

Illinois ranks ninth overall at KenPom and seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Illini average 82.5 points per game, ranking 21st in the nation, and grab 43.2 rebounds per game, ranking fourth in the nation. Aside from Northwestern, their conference losses have come at the hands of Maryland and Purdue. Earlier this season, the Illini hosted MSU and beat them 71-68. However, Illinois leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr. was suspended during that game, and will add a new element of challenge for the Spartans as they prepare for a rematch.

Michigan State (14-9, 6-6 B1G) is on a two-game winning streak after a loss to Wisconsin in late January. They defeated Michigan and Maryland in their last two games. In their 63-54 home win over Maryland, Malik Hall and Tyson Walker put up 19 points apiece.

The Spartans land at No. 17 at KenPom. After a rough start to the season, they have slowly been inching back up the rankings through conference play. They land at 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency, and allow opponents to score 65 points per game on average, ranking 20th in the nation, on 39.8% shooting, ranking 12th in the nation.

When they faced Illinois earlier this season, they were close to evenly matched with the Illini in just about every stat line. The game could have gone either way. The Spartans have not lost at home since December 5.

Illinois vs. Michigan State odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Michigan State -3
Total: 146
Moneyline: Michigan State -166, Illinois +140

Pick: Illinois +3

Michigan State has one of the slowest paces in the nation, averaging just 68.7 possessions per game. This will be a tough matchup against an Illinois team that plays a much faster, higher-scoring game. With Shannon back for Illinois, I think we can expect another close one between these two teams.