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Illinois Michigan State Betting Predictions – Illinois Is Desperate For A Quality Win Right Now

Posted by Washington Tucker on 1/29/2013 5:58:00 PM

The meat of the Big Ten schedule continues as the Illinois Fighting Illini try to get out of the lower part of the conference standings. Meanwhile Michigan State looks to rebound from a loss to Indiana.

Illinois Fighting Illini @ Michigan State Spartans – Thursday, January 31    
Betting line:

Why Illinois Will Win

Even an online horse betting guru would look at a box score or two and say that despite a 2-5 record in Big Ten play, the Fighting Illini has saved some of their best performances for their biggest games. Illinois owns double-digit wins over Gonzaga, Butler and Ohio State, with the victory over the Buckeyes coming in blowout fashion. The team has shown it can play with some of the best competition in the country. Brandon Paul has played relatively well in the majority of Illinois’ big games and will be tough to contain for Michigan State.

The Spartans' sloppy play also will be a key to Illinois, which will be looking for extra possessions to give itself a chance in the second half. Michigan State turns it over more than any team besides Minnesota in the Big Ten, something which Illinois has to feast upon. If Illinois can speed the game up a bit and keep it from being a halfcourt contest, it should go a long way toward stealing this contest in the final minutes.

Given the near identical offensive numbers these two teams put up, this game could very well be decided by who generates easier buckets, and with the best individual scorer on the floor (Paul) belonging to Illinois, that may prove vital in the second half.

Why Michigan State Will Win

When a winning poker hand exists, you don't need to be too cautious in playing your cards. Bet on Michigan State here. The Spartans have yet to lose at home in 2012-13 and in general are very difficult to beat in the Breslin Center. Catching a fading Illinois team while coming off a loss in their own right (to Indiana this past Sunday), it’s hard to see the Spartans dropping a second straight game.

Despite playing a lower scoring game (in terms of pace) than Illinois, the Spartans outrebound the Fighting Illini by nearly four rebounds per game and do a much better job assisting on baskets than Illinois does. While Michigan State doesn’t possess the go-to guy Illinois has, its team offense is much more in sync and relies less on one-on-one action to get baskets, which is important for any team's long-term prospects. Tom Izzo teams always seem to improve their play as the season goes on, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be the same this year.

There’s a train of thought prevailing around the country which says that Illinois overachieved early, and that the team which has struggled in Big Ten play is a more telling sign of the real Fighting Illini. This is a true reflection of what Illinois is, not the team that was a top 15 squad back in December. Michigan State will be looking to affirm that contention here.

Who Will Win

Michigan State often dictates the pace and flow of the game in its building, and Illinois will struggle to have success if it can’t push the tempo. While Paul may play well, the balance of Michigan State and the superior coach (Izzo) should be too much for the Illini. Knowing Michigan State can’t take a third conference loss already, one should expect the Spartans to get the job done here.

College Basketball Betting Pick: Michigan State

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