Michigan State (-11.5) over ILLINOIS
Michigan State is still working through some things, but I think this one is set up nicely against the Big Ten’s only winless team. If you have a concern, it would be Sparty’s troubles on the road. They’ve only played two true road games and haven’t played well in either one of them. It’s only two games, but that was an issue for them last year, as well.
However, defense travels and I don’t know how you can expect Illinois to generate much scoring against the Sparty defense. MSU has the best interior defense in the country. You can beat that in two ways: hitting perimeter shots or being exceptionally great at scoring around the rim. The Illini are currently 324th in three-point percentage, only making 31.2% for the season. They’ve been even worse in Big Ten games, only hitting 26.5%.
And although they do generate a large percentage of their scoring around the rim, it’s not because they’re great at it. You have to score somehow, after all.
On the other end, I don’t see how Illinois limits the frontcourt of Bridges, Ward, and Jackson. The Illini have zero rim protectors and give up a ton of offensive rebounds. As long as the Spartans don’t settle for jump shots, they’ll have a lot of success.
YTD: 31-25 (+3.7u)